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Data from: Temporary thinning shock in previously shaded red spruce


Wason, Jay; French, Kelly (2023), Data from: Temporary thinning shock in previously shaded red spruce, Dryad, Dataset,


Silvicultural thinning can lead to rapid microclimatic changes for residual trees. Despite the benefits of decreased competition, thinning may induce “thinning shock” – temporary negative physiological responses as trees acclimate to new conditions. We examined the impact of thinning on the microclimate and physiology of residual, previously shaded red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) trees relative to non-thinned controls. Both daily maximum temperature and vapor pressure deficit increased post-thinning, with larger increases observed on hotter and drier days. In response to these environmental changes, we found clear evidence of physiological declines. At 1.7 weeks post thinning, we found a 0.59-MPa reduction in average midday water potential relative to control trees, which lasted for an additional 1.4 weeks. Thus, the trees in the thinning treatment were at or beyond published estimates of needle turgor loss. Thinning decreased photosynthetic efficiency of current-year needles by 3.8% after two weeks, and it declined by 1.3% per week for the remainder of the growing season. These results suggest that thinning shock occurs in red spruce, a shade-adapted, climate-sensitive species. Thinning shock may contribute to the lagged growth responses commonly observed post-thinning, and these effects may be more extreme in novel future climates.


The data were collected in the summer of 2020 at the University of Maine. Details on data collection are included in the full publication. The data reported here are the processed data used to generate all the graphs and calculate statistics reported in the manuscript.


Maine Economic Improvement Fund

New England Botanical Club

Penobscot Experimental Forest Research Operations Team

Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station, Award: ME0-42121

New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, Award: 1013351

New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, Award: 1022415

Iola Hubbard Climate Change Endowment

National Institute of Food and Agriculture