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Development and evaluation of aboveground small tree biomass models for naturally regenerated and planted species in eastern Maine, U.S.A.

Nelson, Andrew S., Weiskittel, Aaron R., Wagner, Robert G., Saunders, Michael R.
Biomass and bioenergy 2014 v.68 pp. 215-227
Picea glauca, Populus, aboveground biomass, clones, forests, hardwood, hybrids, leaves, models, saplings, tree trunk, Maine
Numerous models are available in northeastern North America to estimate aboveground tree biomass, yet most have focused on trees ≥12.5 cm diameter, and these models are often poor predictors of small tree biomass (<12.5 cm diameter). Additionally, models available to estimate small tree biomass often lack independent evaluation with field data. We developed a new set of additive biomass component (foliage, branch, and bole) models for five naturally regenerated hardwood species, four hybrid poplar (Populus sp.) clones and white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench.), from trees in eastern Maine. Biomass measurements were used to evaluate national and regional models for naturally regenerated species, and species specific models for planted stock. Results showed that the regional and national models provided similar fits for total biomass across all species. Moreover, the small tree biomass models currently used to predict woody biomass substantially underestimated biomass from 19.0% to 36.6% for all of the naturally regenerated hardwood species at our site. This substantial underestimation of small tree biomass may have contributed to the recent 34% decrease in estimated sapling woody biomass, and 15% decrease in aboveground biomass of all living trees in Maine, where nearly one-quarter of the 70,000 km2 forestlands are dominated by saplings. This problem may exist in other regions of the United States if substantial proportions of forestlands are dominated by small trees. Further model evaluation is warranted to assess the performance of the current models.