Modeling Stand Development

Understanding the compositional and structural development, and treatment response of existing stands is necessary to address the provision of many benefits from forests. Historically, modeling growth and yield of stands of trees has been an important part of research that provided information on the production of wood products. More recently, we have sought to develop models that can provide information about changes in forest composition and structure over time, and that can be related to wildlife habitat. Our unit has a long history of research in this type of modeling. We established and maintain a large set of plots that provide high-quality, long-term databases for developing individual tree and stand level models. In addition, we established and maintained a substantial number of case studies of stand development following regeneration, some dating to the 1920s and 1930s.

Working with several partners, our research shows:

  • Provided both individual-tree and stand-level models that allow projection of important stand and tree characteristics into the future.
  • Provided estimates of response to thinning at the tree and stand level.
  • Shown that production of plant material available to herbivores can be increased by thinning.
  • Utilized permanent inventory plots in stands on moist and dry sites for comparison of the response of species to competition.
  • Monitored the response of arborescent species to natural disturbance in an old-growth hardwood stand.
  • Obtained data on the development of natural hardwood stands that replaced predominantly pine stands killed by the southern pine beetle.
  • Demonstrated that the growth response of young trees growing in small (half-acre) openings in the forest canopy, is similar to the response of trees in large, stand-size openings.