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Data from: Asymptotic allometry and transition to the canopy in Abies balsamea

Cite this dataset

Wood, Zachary T. et al. (2016). Data from: Asymptotic allometry and transition to the canopy in Abies balsamea [Dataset]. Dryad.


There is a lack of consensus in theoretical and empirical literature on whether height-diameter (H:D) relationships of canopy trees are asymptotic. To investigate H:D allometry, particularly in the transition to the canopy, we focus on shade-tolerant Abies balsamea, across steep physical gradients associated with elevation, and correlated biotically-generated gradients of stem density, canopy height and canopy species composition. We addressed these questions: A. What is the relation between H:D allometric form and emergence into the canopy? B. Is H:D allometry asymptotic? C. What aspects of the H:D relationship are most sensitive to environmental conditions? Using maximum likelihood, we compared the performance of alternative H:D forms (linear, power function, non-sigmoid-asymptotic and sigmoid-asymptotic), incorporating elevation and local canopy height as covariates. A. balsamea H:D allometric form was clearly sigmoid-asymptotic, by a wide AIC margin, across all gradients, to an asymptote slightly above canopy height. The commonly used power function had essentially no empirical support (Δ AIC > > 10). Canopy height decreased with elevation, but with much variation, so elevation was a poor predictor of the asymptote. Across environmental gradients, H:D allometries overlapped for trees far below the canopy, but diverged strongly for trees approaching different canopy heights. Changes in resource allocation and modification of growth form that could generate asymptotic H:D allometries are consistent with known physical forces and diverse research findings in tree developmental biology and physiology. Synthesis. The H:D asymptote and its tight relation to canopy height, unapparent in aggregated H:D data, became clear only when canopy height and elevation were included explicitly in allometric models. Asymptotic H:D allometries may be the norm, though often undetected, in unmanaged forests without recent catastrophic disturbance. Appropriate asymptotic H:D models may reduce error in forest carbon and biomass estimation and promote theoretical and empirical integration in the ecology and evolution of tree allometry.

Usage notes


northern Appalachians
New Hampshire
White Mountains