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    Author(s): R.L. Deal
    Date: 2006
    Source: In: Red Alder--a state of knowledge, p. 45-54
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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    This paper synthesizes information on the development of natural pure red alder stands and dynamics of mixed alder-conifer stands. Early research on red alder growth and yield focused on developing stand volume and normal yield. tables for alder in the Pacific Northwest. Recent site-index estimation and height-growth curves were developed on a 20-year site base age. These height-growth and site-index curves were a significant improvement over earlier work and are widely used today. Red alder exhibits rapid early height growth with much more rapid height growth than for conifer associates. On good sites, trees may be 9 m at age 5, 16 m at age 10 and 24 m at age 20. Height growth then quickly declines, and by age 15 alder will reach more than half its total height and nearly all of its mature height by the age of 40. Alder height growth essentially stops by age 50.

    Long-term successional sequences of red alder stands are not well understood. Red alder frequently occurs in mixed stands with conifer associates including Douglas-fir, western hemlock, Sitka spruce and western redcedar. Mixed species dynamics is more complex and variable than for pure stands and depends on a number of factors including forest composition, establishment and survival of understory conifers, timing of alder mortality, abundance and composition of shrubs, and geographic location. Red alder is short lived (approximately 100 years) compared with its conifer associates. In some sites, alder may succeed to brush dominated communities with few if any conifers to replace the alder. In other sites, succession to more shade tolerant trees such as western hemlock and Sitka spruce is certain but the sequence of events is unknown. On some nitrogen deficient sites red alder has been shown to increase growth of conifer associates but in other cases red alder has been shown to suppress and even kill less shade tolerant conifers. Other conifer species such as western hemlock, Sitka spruce and western redcedar can survive as lower strata species and eventually grow above the alders but it may take several decades for this to occur. Height growth and long-term stand dynamics in mixed stands are highly variable and long-term succession is difficult to predict. More work is needed to understand the long-term successional sequence of events.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Deal, R.L. 2006. Red alder stand development and dynamics. In: Red Alder--a state of knowledge, p. 45-54


    Alnus rubra, red alder, stand development, stand dynamics, mixed alder-conifer stands, forest succession

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