Many forests in the Pacific Northwest region of North America are both highly productive and sensitive to climate. The combination of productivity and sensitivity makes forests vulnerable to changes in future climate and most likely to feed back to the regional carbon cycle. We reconstructed basal area increment (BAI) for 20 yr using tree-ring increments and diameter to identify species-specific responses of 14 forested vegetation types in the Stehekin River watershed in the North Cascade Range, to interannual climatic variability. Mean basal area increment (MBAI) for the 20-yr period is low when the standard error is low, but as MBAI increases, the standard error (SE) is more variable. Growth at sites with both low SE and MBAI may be related to climatic variables, however, some forest types dominated by Douglas-fir and mountain hemlock are both productive and responsive to climatic variability. Many forests in the Pacific Northwest are dominated by Douglas-fir, a commercially important timber species, and as a result, may play a major role in the regional carbon balance. Douglas-fir and mountain hemlock forests in the eastern portion of the North Cascades should be carefully monitored and managed in the context of both changing climatic conditions and regional carbon budgets.
Additional Publication Details
Interannual variability in aboveground tree growth in Stehekin River watershed, North Cascade Range, Washington