Stem Damage Modifies the Impact of Wind on Norway Spruces


Bark stripping caused by cervids can have a long-lasting negative effect on tree vitality. Such trees of low vitality might be more susceptible to other disturbances. The amplifying effects of disturbance interactions can cause significantly more damage to forest ecosystems than the individual effects of each disturbance. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the impact of bark stripping (stem damage) on the probability of wind damage and snapping height for Norway spruces (Picea Abies (L.) H. Karst.). In this study, we used the Latvian National Forest Inventory data from the period 2004–2018. In the analysis, we used data based on 32,856 trees. To analyse the data, we implemented a Bayesian binary logistic generalised linear mixed-effects model and the linear mixed-effects model. Our results showed that stem damage significantly increased the probability of wind damage and affected the snapping height of Norway spruces. Similarly, root damage, the slenderness ratio, the stand age, the stand density, the soil type, and the dominant tree species had a significant influence on the probability of wind damage. In both periods, trees with stem damage had significantly (p textless 0.05) higher probability (odd ratio 1.68) to be wind damaged than trees without stem damage. The stem damaged Norway spruce trees snapped in the first 25% of the tree height, while trees without stem damage snapped around half (50%) of the tree height. Our results show that stem damage significantly alters the effect of wind damage on Norway spruces, suggesting that such damage must be incorporated into wind-risk assessment models.