Ice storms are recurrent disturbances that alter forest succession and forest structure throughout North America. However, long-term effects of ice storms on tree growth are largely unknown. Following a 1994 ice storm in Delaware, the Delaware Forest Service established seventy-five study plots to sample four species of trees (southern red oak [Quercus falcata Michx.], white oak [Quercus alba L.], loblolly pine [Pinus taeda L.], and yellow poplar [Liriodendron tulipifera L.]) affected by the ice storm. The objective of this study is to identify multi-year species-specific responses to the 1994 Delaware ice storm using tree ring data collected statewide four years following the disturbance. A ground survey classified affected trees into damage class categories based on the percentage of crown limbs broken. Dendrochronology was used to identify the radial growth response of the four species studied across four damage classes (control, light damage, moderate damage, and severe damage). Yellow poplar was most susceptible to ice storm damage followed by loblolly pine, red oak, and white oak. In general, severely damaged trees experienced the greatest reduction in annual radial growth. Yellow poplar had the fastest recovery rate following the storm, followed by white oak, red oak, and loblolly pine. The results of this study suggest that species have differential growth responses to ice storms that is in part attributable to the species' ability to produce epicormic branches.
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Vol. 133 • No. 4