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Gary Greer


Trees in a cold-temperate forest require stem strength sufficient for self-support to maximize canopy height and width while resisting stresses imposed by wind and snow. We compared optimization of self-support of three tree species native to Western Michigan (Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, and Quercus rubra) with their dominance in local forest stands. Optimization of self-support was investigated by analyzing branch architecture per the Uniform Stress and West-Brown-Enquist scaling models. Data were collected from thirty trees per species. Height and d.b.h. were measured in the field. Branch diameters and angles of the first three nodes were measured from scaled photographs. The influence of neighboring trees was assessed by measuring the d.b.h. and distance of the nearest trees. Our results are consistent with structural optimization as an important factor in local dominance which is mitigated by the effects of neighbors.

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