Patterns of growth dominance in forests of the Rocky Mountains, USA

Dan Binkley, Daniel M. Kashian, Suzanne Boyden, Margot W. Kaye, John B. Bradford, Mary A. Arthur, Paula J. Fornwalt, Michael G. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


We used data from 142 stands in Colorado and Wyoming, USA, to test the expectations of a model of growth dominance and stand development. Growth dominance relates the distribution of growth rates of individual trees within a stand to tree sizes. Stands with large trees that account for a greater share of stand growth than of stand mass exhibit strong growth dominance. Stands with large trees that contribute less to stand growth than to stand mass show reverse growth dominance. The four-phase model predicts that forests move from a period of little dominance (Phase 1), with trees accounting for similar contributions to stand growth and stand mass. Phase 2 is a period of strong growth dominance, where larger trees account for a disproportionately large amount of total stand growth. Growth dominance declines during Phase 3 as growth of the larger trees slows. A final Phase 4 shows reverse growth dominance when the growth of larger trees is less than their proportional contribution to total stand mass. The datasets supported the expectation of reverse growth dominance in old forests of ponderosa pine, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, and mixed stands of aspen and conifers. Pure aspen stands did not show reverse growth dominance. An age sequence of lodgepole pine failed to show the expected Phase 2 period of strongly developed growth dominance. Future work needs to combine quantitative descriptions of patterns in growth dominance with experimental manipulations of resource supplies and environmental conditions to connect forest dynamics at the scales of individual trees, groups of trees, and stands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
For help with the original studies used in this analysis, we thank: Lauren Alleman, Carissa Aoki, Rick Arcano, Lucia Arthur-Paratley, Caitlin Balch-Burnett, Beth Blankenship, Teresa Cohn, Sarah Cross, Lance East, Timothy J. Fahey, Lance Farman, Katherine Findley, Deborah Fritts, Crystal Halverson, Lisa Huttinger, Heather Lyons, Chris Martin, Kellen Nelson, Brian Schwingle, Therese Tepe, Steve Wangen, Andy Whelan, and Wayne Shepperd. Collaborators on the studies that provided data for this paper include William H. Romme, Daniel B. Tinker, Monica G. Turner, Creighton Litton, Fredrick W. Smith, and Tim Fahey. This work was supported by McIntire-Stennis appropriations to Colorado State University, the Joint Fire Sciences Program, the National Science Foundation Ecology and Ecosystem Studies Programs, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the University of Wyoming, National Park Service Research Station; and funding provided for Loch Vale work courtesy of J.S. Baron and the USGS Western Mountain Initiative.


  • Abies lasiocarpa
  • Age-related decline in forest growth
  • Competition
  • P. ponderosa
  • Picea engelmannii
  • Pinus contorta
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Stand development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Patterns of growth dominance in forests of the Rocky Mountains, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this