An analysis of structure of tree seedling populations on a Lahar

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Abstract

The structure of a tree seedling population is dependent on the interaction of several processes including seed dispersal, germination, survival, and competition on a physical landscape. Structural components (composition, size distributions, spatial distributions, age distributions, density, and history) of a tree seedling population on the Muddy River Lahar on the east side of Mount St. Helens were examined over a range of extents (1/10 m to 1000 m). Many of these component have rarely been examined at the larger extents listed here. Composition reflected distances to seed source and seed morphology. Seedling sizes are inversely proportional to depth to a buried soil if one existed. Spatial patterns indicated that seedling are clustered for tree seedlings less than 200 m apart, random for tree seedling from 200 m to 400 m and uniform for seedling greater than 400 m apart. This was confirmed by two measures of multidimensional spatial point pattern. Age distributions did not reflect the size distributions; old seedlings could be almost any size, young seedlings were constrained to be small in size. Densities appear to be typical for forests in the area. History of disturbance events (the lahar establishment, and successive ash, pumice, and erosion) has strongly influenced this tree seedling community.

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