The objective of this study was to develop a stem analysis data processing and computational algorithm and associated software suite that was (1) applicable to temperate and boreal forest tree species, (2) mathematically consistent with excurrent tree stem geometric and allometric principles, (3) compatible with data structures obtained using proprietary and non-proprietary imaging systems, and (4) executable on Windows®
-based operating systems. Computationally, the suite denoted SAP (Stem Analysis Program), deployed sectional-specific formulae that were in accord with the following geometric assumptions: (1) stump section was treated as a solid of revolution resembling a cylinder; (2) sections between the stump and the tip were treated as a solid of revolution resembling a frustum of a cone for sections with continuous annual increments, otherwise treated as a cone; and (3) tip section was treated as a solid of revolution resembling a cone. The algorithm also corrected for the slant-based sectional length measurements using Pythagorean Theorem and eliminated the requirement to predict age-specific apex height development through the use of a linear interpolation procedure. Based on input data structures consisting of annual ring-width xylem sequences measured from cross-sectional disk samples acquired at multiple positions along the tree’s main stem, the suite produces a broad array of output, inclusive of radial and longitudinal ring-width sequences, apical growth increments, annual and cumulative sectional and cumulative volume production patterns, and historically reconstructed stem taper profiles. In total, the SAP creates six output data files for each tree analyzed: (1) input data reference summary (e.g., geometric mean ring-widths and resultant radii for each cross-section); (2) radial growth patterns for the cross-section sampled at breast-height (e.g., absolute and relative diameter and basal area growth estimates); (3) sectional (vertical) profiles of volume growth patterns (e.g., absolute and relative growth estimates within each section (bolt)); (4) cumulative volume growth patterns for the entire tree; (5) historical taper profile estimates (e.g., heights and diameters by year); and (6) texturally-labeled compendium of all output files generated. Additionally, real-time graphical output was produced for the purposes of data assessment and verification during the radial sequence data acquisition stage (e.g., graphical presentation of annual ring-width sequences by radii and disk, for use in validating input data structures and increment measurements derived from the imaging system), and interpreting growth and development patterns (e.g., vertical growth layer and specific volume increment profiles by age or year). The utility of the SAP suite was exemplified by processing WindendroTM
-based annual ring-width xylem sequences obtained from cross-sectional disks extracted from a jack pine (Pinus banksiana
Lamb.) tree via percent-height destructive stem analysis, and subsequently elucidating growth and developmental patterns within the context of silviculture treatment effects (thinning). The SAP suite provides the conceptual and logistical foundation for the continued deployment of the stem analysis approach in a wide range of investigations, including those examining the effect of naturogenic processes and anthropogenic influences on tree growth and development.
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