Discordance in spatial patterns of white pine (Pinus strobus) size-classes in a patchy near-boreal forest

Martin Dovčiak, Lee E. Frelich, Peter B. Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


1. White pines (Pinus strobus) in a c. 1 ha near-boreal aspen-red maple stand in the western Great Lakes region, USA, were allocated to five size-classes that were tested for discordance of their spatial patterns (i.e. within-size-class spatial distribution of individuals and spatial associations among different size-classes). The size-classes were 0.5-1 m tall, 1-2 m tall, 2-4 m tall, > 4 m tall but < 20 cm diameter at breast height (d.b.h.), and > 20 cm d.b.h. The size-classes also differed in age. Their spatial patterns were analysed using formulae for spatial autocorrelation with categorical data at neighbourhood (0-14 m) and stand (0-70 m) scales. 2. Size-classes clustered in neighbourhoods that differed in size ranging from 6 m in diameter (size-class 2) to 40 m (size-class 3), suggesting that the pattern of each size-class is due to a different set of environmental factors. Similar size-classes tended to be randomly or positively associated at neighbourhood scales, while the most dissimilar size-classes occupied different neighbourhoods. 3. Size-classes 1 and 2 were located farther away from seed trees than size-class 3, which was farther away than size-class 4. Thus periodic seedling invasion of a deciduous matrix may be followed by the gradual retraction of older size-classes into a refuge near the mature seed source where competition from shrubs and overstorey trees is lower. Although the lack of fine-scale clustering suggests density-dependent mortality within the refuge, few older individuals were found outside this area. 4. Two regeneration bottlenecks may structure white pine populations. First, recruitment into size-class 2 is restricted to small patches (possibly in understorey gaps) within neighbourhoods with abundant size-class 1. Relatively unrestricted recruitment to size-class 3 follows, and after that recruitment to size-class 4 is again limited, this time to refugia with sparse canopy near adult trees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-291
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2001


  • Neighbourhood effects
  • Patch dynamics
  • Plant demography
  • Point pattern analysis
  • Spatial pattern
  • White pine


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