iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Individual tree mortality of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) in Estonia

Kobra Maleki   , Andres Kiviste

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 643-651 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1672-008
Published: Apr 04, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

The functioning of complex forest ecosystems is intimately related to their structural properties. Tree mortality is a major driver of forest stand dynamics and therefore plays an important role in the formation of forest structure. Data from the Estonian Network of Forest Research Plots (ENFRP) was used to estimate the mortality probability of silver birch trees (Betula pendula Roth) by using logistic models. In this study several spatial and non-spatial variables were tested to determine the most important mortality explanatory factors. Additionally, thinning variables were defined and implemented into the mortality models, to examine whether thinning practices could modify the stand structure and density, then leading to a lower mortality rate. The results of this study showed that tree mortality models that included either a five-year diameter growth rate (id5) as a measure of tree vitality, or the tree relative diameter (drel) as a measure of competition, or both these two variables, were substantially better than any models not including these variables. In addition, any measures of spatial aggregation (agg) and species proportion (sp) within the zone of influence markedly improved the model predictions, though the mortality probability of trees declined where there was higher aggregation and species mixture. Our results also suggested that if thinning were conducted around the birch trees, depending on the thinning intensity, the number of neighbors is effectively reduced, and consequently the competition load within the influence zone decreases, leading to healthier growth and lower mortality rates of the shade-intolerant birch trees. We thus recommend to adopt thinning regimes in mixed forest stands to foster tree species diversity, and at the same time provide adequate growing space for birch trees within the stands. This will improve the forest structure and increase the adaptive capacity of forests, which is increasingly important under changing climatic conditions.


Betula pendula Roth, Diameter Growth, Species Proportion, Aggregation, Competition

Authors’ address

Kobra Maleki
Andres Kiviste
Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Forestry and Rural Engineering, Department of Forest Management, Kreutzwaldi 5-1B18, Tartu 51014 (Estonia)

Corresponding author

Kobra Maleki


Maleki K, Kiviste A (2016). Individual tree mortality of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) in Estonia. iForest 9: 643-651. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1672-008

Academic Editor

Rupert Seidl

Paper history

Received: Apr 10, 2015
Accepted: Dec 03, 2015

First online: Apr 04, 2016
Publication Date: Aug 09, 2016
Publication Time: 4.10 months

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