Spatial patterns of Douglas-fir and aspen forest expansion

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6 Scopus citations


Spatial patterns, rates, and density of encroaching forests into adjacent grasslands have important implications for long-term land use management and resource planning. This study examines the effects of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menzeisii) and aspen (Populus tremuloides) regeneration mechanisms on sucker and seedling spatial patterns, distance from adult trees, and density in encroaching forests. A total of 8,924 aspen suckers and 1,244 Douglas-fir seedlings were counted and mapped in 2,920 quadrats (5 m × 5 m) in 106 plots along a lower forest-grassland ecotone in the Centennial Valley, MT, USA. Sucker and seedling spatial patterns were analyzed using Morisita's I index. Average sucker and seedling density per quadrat and distance from adult trees were estimated for each plot and compared between aspen-dominated plots and Douglas-fir-dominated plots using ANOVA tests. Aspen suckers were established in a clustered spatial pattern at a significantly higher density and a significantly shorter distance from the adult trees. In contrast, Douglas-fir seedlings were established in varying spatial patterns at a significantly lower density and a significantly greater distance from the adult trees. Forest encroachment into the adjacent grassland in the Centennial Valley is occurring in contrasting patterns and at varying rates and densities due to the difference in aspen and Douglas-fir regeneration mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalNew Forests
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Density
  • Ecotone shift
  • Morisita's I index
  • Rates
  • Seedlings
  • Suckers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry


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