An evaluation of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) decline in the urban forest of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

H. A. Catton, S. St. George, W. R. Remphrey

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13 Scopus citations


Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, has a large, indigenous population of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa Michx.). In the 1980s, many of these trees were showing signs of decline, a disease caused by a complex of abiotic and secondary biotic stressing agents. Potential causal factors were investigated by comparing various aspects of 120 bur oaks visually rated as healthy or declined based on crown dieback levels. The results indicated that many selected bur oak trees predated surrounding urban development and that declined trees were significantly older with more severe stem wounds and competition from surrounding trees than healthy specimens. Average annual growth ring widths of healthy and declined trees were similar in the early part of the 20th century. However, decline actually began decades before symptoms were noticed, coinciding with a period of in tense city-wide urban development, as growth of declined trees was slower than that of healthy trees beginning sporadically in the 1940s and consistently from 1974 to 2001. During the early years of decline, the year-by-year separation in ring width between the two categories was significantly positively related to precipitation levels. This suggested that in wet years, declined trees may have been surrounded by unfavorable water-logged soils, possibly as a result of natural drainage patterns being impeded by urban development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalArboriculture and Urban Forestry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


  • Dendrochronology
  • Tree decline
  • Urban development


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