Modelling the variation in wood density of New Zealand-grown Douglas-fir
New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science
Wood density is an important property that affects the performance of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) timber. In order to develop strategies to achieve certain end-product outcomes, forest managers and wood processors require information on the variation in wood density across sites, among trees within a stand and within trees. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop models explaining the variation in outerwood density among sites and among trees within a stand, and
... e radial and longitudinal variation of wood density within a tree. Methods: An extensive dataset was assembled containing wood density measurements from historical studies carried out over a period spanning more than 50 years. The dataset contained breast height outerwood density cores from approximately 10,800 individual trees sampled from 312 stands throughout New Zealand, pith-to-bark radial density profiles from 515 trees from 47 stands, and discs taken from multiple heights in 172 trees from 21 stands. Linear and non-linear mixed models were developed using these data to explain the variation in inter-and intra-tree variation in Douglas-fir wood density. Results: Breast height outerwood density was positively related to mean annual air temperature in stands planted after 1969. This relationship was less apparent in older North Island stands, possibly due to the confounding influences of genetic differences. After adjusting for age and temperature, wood density was also positively related to soil carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) ratio in South Island stands where data on soil C:N ratio were available. There was only a minimal effect of stand density on breast height outerwood density, and a weak negative relationship between wood density and tree diameter within a stand. Within a stem, wood density decreased over the first seven rings from the pith and gradually increased beyond ring ten, eventually stabilising by ring 30. Longitudinal variation in wood density exhibited a sigmoidal pattern, being fairly constant over most of the height but increasing in the lower stem and decreasing in the upper stem. Conclusions: The study has provided greater insight into the extent and drivers of variation in Douglas-fir wood density, particularly the relative contributions of site and silviculture. The models developed to explain these trends in wood density have been coupled together and linked to a growth and yield simulator which also predicts branching characteristics to estimate the impact of different factors, primarily site, on the wood density distribution of log product assortments. Further work is required to investigate the impacts of genetic and soil properties on wood density, which may improve our understanding of site-level variation in wood density.