Ice storms can break limbs from the crowns of trees, thereby reducing the photosynthetic capability of damaged trees while increasing the availability of light to neighboring trees. I quantified the effect of damage to canopy trees of red oak (Quercus rubra L.) and white oak (Quercus alba L.) following a 2008 ice storm in Massachusetts. Radial growth decreased with increasing canopy loss, but growth increased with increasing loss of limbs from canopy neighbors. The net effect on growth was usually negative, but was positive even for some heavily damaged trees. The relationship was also linear, suggesting that the categories of damage used in previous studies were not necessary. Susceptibility to ice damage tended to decrease with increasing stem diameter, a trend not seen in previous studies. The results from this and earlier studies show that initial damage and subsequent radial growth are influenced by several factors. To quantify the community and ecosystem effects of ice storms, the complexities of damage and recovery must be taken into account.
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