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Concept: Thuja plicata


Large-diameter trees dominate the structure, dynamics and function of many temperate and tropical forests. However, their attendant contributions to forest heterogeneity are rarely addressed. We established the Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot, a 25.6 ha permanent plot within which we tagged and mapped all 30,973 woody stems ≥1 cm dbh, all 1,966 snags ≥10 cm dbh, and all shrub patches ≥2 m(2). Basal area of the 26 woody species was 62.18 m(2)/ha, of which 61.60 m(2)/ha was trees and 0.58 m(2)/ha was tall shrubs. Large-diameter trees (≥100 cm dbh) comprised 1.5% of stems, 31.8% of basal area, and 17.6% of the heterogeneity of basal area, with basal area dominated by Tsuga heterophylla and Pseudotsuga menziesii. Small-diameter subpopulations of Pseudotsuga menziesii, Tsuga heterophylla and Thuja plicata, as well as all tree species combined, exhibited significant aggregation relative to the null model of complete spatial randomness (CSR) up to 9 m (P≤0.001). Patterns of large-diameter trees were either not different from CSR (Tsuga heterophylla), or exhibited slight aggregation (Pseudotsuga menziesii and Thuja plicata). Significant spatial repulsion between large-diameter and small-diameter Tsuga heterophylla suggests that large-diameter Tsuga heterophylla function as organizers of tree demography over decadal timescales through competitive interactions. Comparison among two forest dynamics plots suggests that forest structural diversity responds to intermediate-scale environmental heterogeneity and disturbances, similar to hypotheses about patterns of species richness, and richness- ecosystem function. Large mapped plots with detailed within-plot environmental spatial covariates will be required to test these hypotheses.

Concepts: Ecosystem, Forest, Tree, Shrub, Douglas-fir, Null hypothesis, Thuja plicata, Tsuga heterophylla


The yew (Taxus baccata) is a common evergreen tree containing the toxin taxine B. Between 42 and 91 g of yew leaf is lethal to a 70-kg adult. The objective of this article is to present an overview of findings in fatal yew intoxications.

Concepts: Pinophyta, Deciduous, Evergreen, Taxus baccata, Thuja plicata


Human occupation is usually associated with degraded landscapes but 13,000 years of repeated occupation by British Columbia’s coastal First Nations has had the opposite effect, enhancing temperate rainforest productivity. This is particularly the case over the last 6,000 years when intensified intertidal shellfish usage resulted in the accumulation of substantial shell middens. We show that soils at habitation sites are higher in calcium and phosphorous. Both of these are limiting factors in coastal temperate rainforests. Western redcedar (Thuja plicata) trees growing on the middens were found to be taller, have higher wood calcium, greater radial growth and exhibit less top die-back. Coastal British Columbia is the first known example of long-term intertidal resource use enhancing forest productivity and we expect this pattern to occur at archaeological sites along coastlines globally.

Concepts: Tree, Rainforest, Archaeology, British Columbia, Vancouver, Temperate rainforest, Rainforests, Thuja plicata


Thuja plicata is a coniferous tree which displays remarkable water channelling properties. In this article, an easily fabricated mesh inspired by the hierarchical macro surface structure of Thuja plicata branchlets is described which emulates this efficient water collection behaviour. The key parameters are shown to be the pore size, pore angle, mesh rotation, tilt angle (branch droop) and layering (branch overlap). Envisaged societal applications include water harvesting and low cost breathable architecture for developing countries.

Concepts: Plant, Structure, Tree, Shrub, Pinophyta, Cupressaceae, Conifer cone, Thuja plicata


Recent work suggests that plant size affects light requirements and carbon balance of juvenile trees, and such shifts may be greater in light-demanding species than in their more shade-tolerant associates. To explore the physiological basis of such shifts, we measured juvenile light interception, carbon gain and growth of four subtropical Australian rainforest trees differing in shade tolerance, comparing individuals ranging from 13 to 238 cm in height, across a wide range of understory environments. We hypothesized that even in a standardized light environment, increasing sapling size would lead to declines in net daily carbon gain of foliage and relative growth rates (RGR) of all species, with declines more pronounced in light-demanding species. Crown architecture of individuals was recorded using a 3-dimensional digitizer, and the YPLANT program was used to estimate the self-shaded fraction of each crown and model net carbon gain. Increased sapling size caused a significant increase in self-shading, and significant declines in net daily carbon gain and RGR of light-demanding species, while such ontogenetic variations were minimal or absent in shade-tolerant species. Additionally, differences in the slope of the relationship between light and RGR led to crossovers in RGR among shade-tolerant and light-demanding species at low light. Our results show that the magnitude of ontogenetic variation in net daily carbon gain and RGR can be substantial and may depend on successional status, making it unsafe to assume that young seedling performance can be used to predict or model responses of larger juvenile trees.

Concepts: DNA, Plant, Tree, Plant morphology, Rainforest, Pinophyta, Seedling, Thuja plicata


Non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) form a fundamental yet poorly quantified carbon pool in trees. Studies of NSC seasonality in forest trees have seldom measured whole-tree NSC stocks and allocation among organs, and are not representative of all tree functional types. Non-structural carbohydrate research has primarily focussed on broadleaf deciduous and coniferous evergreen trees with distinct growing seasons, while broadleaf evergreen trees remain under-studied despite their different growth phenology. We measured whole-tree NSC allocation and temporal variation in Eucalyptus obliqua L'Hér., a broadleaf evergreen tree species typically occurring in mixed-age temperate forests, which has year-round growth and the capacity to resprout after fire. Our overarching objective was to improve the empirical basis for understanding the functional importance of NSC allocation and stock changes at the tree- and organ-level in this tree functional type. Starch was the principal storage carbohydrate and was primarily stored in the stem and roots of young (14-year-old) trees rather than the lignotuber, which did not appear to be a specialized starch storage organ. Whole-tree NSC stocks were depleted during spring and summer due to significant decreases in starch mass in the roots and stem, seemingly to support root and crown growth but potentially exacerbated by water stress in summer. Seasonality of stem NSCs differed between young and mature trees, and was not synchronized with stem basal area increments in mature trees. Our results suggest that the relative magnitude of seasonal NSC stock changes could vary with tree growth stage, and that the main drivers of NSC fluctuations in broadleaf evergreen trees in temperate biomes could be periodic disturbances such as summer drought and fire, rather than growth phenology. These results have implications for understanding post-fire tree recovery via resprouting, and for incorporating NSC pools into carbon models of mixed-age forests.

Concepts: Plant, Tree, Pinophyta, Cupressaceae, Deciduous, Evergreen, Thuja plicata, Semi-deciduous


Particles from smoldering biomass burning (BB) represent a major source of carbonaceous aerosol in the terrestrial atmosphere. In this study, mass specific absorption spectra of laboratory-generated smoldering wood particles (SWP) from 3 hardwood and 3 softwood species were measured in-situ. Absorption data spanning from λ = 500 nm to 840 nm were collected using a photoacoustic spectrometer coupled to a supercontinuum laser with a tunable wavelength and bandwidth filter. SWP were size- (electrical mobility) and mass-selected prior to optical characterization allowing data to be reported as mass-specific absorption cross sections (MAC). The median measured MAC at λ = 660 nm for smoldering oak particles was 1.1 (0.57/1.8) x 10-2 m2 g-1 spanning from 83 femtograms (fg) to 517 fg (500 nm ≤ mobility diameter ≤ 950 nm), MAC values in parenthesis are the 16th and 84th percentiles of the measured data (i.e. 1σ). The collection of all six wood species (Oak, Hickory, Mesquite, Western redcedar, Baldcypress and Blue spruce) had median MAC values ranging from 0.014 m2 g-1 to 0.079 m2 g-1 at λ = 550 nm with absorption Ångström exponents (AAE) between 3.5 and 6.2. Oak, Western redcedar and Blue spruce possessed statistically similar (p > 0.05) spectra while the spectra of Hickory, Mesquite and Baldcypress were distinct (p < 0.01) as calculated from a point-by-point analysis using the Wilcox rank-sum test.

Concepts: Species, Electromagnetic radiation, Wood, Spruce, Hardwood, Least concern plants, Thuja plicata, Softwood


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are globally distributed, monophyletic root symbionts with ancient origins. Their contribution to carbon cycling and nutrient dynamics is ecologically important, given their obligate association with over 70% of vascular plant species. Current understanding of AMF species richness and community structure is based primarily on studies of grasses, herbs, and agricultural crops, typically in disturbed environments. Few studies have considered AMF interactions with long-lived woody perennial species in undisturbed ecosystems. Here we examined AMF communities associated with roots and soils of young, mature, and old western redcedar (Thuja plicata) at two sites in the old-growth temperate rainforests of British Columbia. Due to the unique biology of AMF, community richness and structure were assessed using a conservative, clade-based approach. We found 91 AMF OTUs across all samples, with significantly greater AMF richness in the southern site, but no differences in richness along the host chronosequence at either site. All host age classes harboured AMF communities that were overdispersed (more different to each other than expected by chance), with young tree communities most resembling old tree communities. A comparison with similar clade richness data obtained from the literature indicates that western redcedar AMF communities are as rich as those of grasses, tropical trees, and palms. Our examination of undisturbed temperate old growth rainforests suggests that priority effects, rather than succession, are an important aspect of AMF community assembly in this ecosystem. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Plant, Fungus, Ecology, Symbiosis, Mycorrhiza, Tree, British Columbia, Thuja plicata


Thuja plicata (western redcedar, WRC) produces high amounts of oxygenated thujone monoterpenoids associated with resistance against herbivore feeding, in particular ungulate browsing. Thujones and other monoterpenoids accumulate in glandular structures in the foliage of WRC. Thujones are produced from (+)-sabinene via sabinol and sabinone. Using metabolite analysis, enzyme assays with WRC tissue extracts, cloning and functional characterization of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s), we established that trans-sabin-3-ol, but not cis-sabin-3-ol, is the intermediate in thujone biosynthesis in WRC. Based on transcriptome analysis, full-length cDNA cloning and characterization of expressed P450 proteins we identified CYP750B1 and CYP76AA25 as the enzymes that catalyze the hydroxylation of (+)-sabinene to trans-sabin-3-ol. Gene specific transcript analysis in contrasting WRC genotypes producing high and low amounts of monoterpenoids, including a glandless low-terpenoid clone, as well as assays for substrate specificity supported a biological role of CYP750B1 in α- and β-thujone biosynthesis. This P450 belongs to the apparently gymnosperm-specific CYP750 family, and appears to be the first member of this family to be functionally characterized. In contrast, CYP76AA25 has a broader substrate spectrum, converting also the sesquiterpene farnesene and the herbicide isoproturon, and its transcript profiles are not well correlated with thujone accumulation.

Concepts: Gene, Gene expression, Metabolism, Enzyme, Catalysis, Cytochrome P450, Thuja plicata, Thuja


Dams are of paramount importance to a wide variety of human services and many of their environmental problems are known; however, there are few studies in the world addressing the impacts on the native vegetation previously distant from water bodies which became close to the lakeshore created by a dam. Thus, this paper aims to analyze the responses of a dry forest to a dam after 15 years. For this, 20 random samples of 40 trees were made, 10 close to the lakeshore and 10 distant from it, by applying the central square point method. Close to the dam, we found higher values regarding basal area, number of trees, number of evergreen trees, and zoochoric syndrome, but there were lower values of Shannon’s diversity index. Therefore, the impacts of the dam after 15 years caused several changes to the tree community. The greater basal area close to the dam suggests that water deficit during the dry season was decreased and plants have thicker trunks. On the other hand, this sector had much more zoochoric syndrome and a larger number of evergreen trees than plots which are distant from water, suggesting changes with regard to the community’s ecological functions. Furthermore, structural floristic data shows that the sector close to the dam is less similar to other deciduous forests within the same geographical region than the sector distant from water, thus providing evidence of the impacts of dams on the tree community.

Concepts: Plant, Botany, Dam, Pinophyta, Deciduous, Evergreen, Thuja plicata, Semi-deciduous