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#59474 - 08/04/11 04:06 PM No pseudo science
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4 August 2011 Last updated at 11:12 ET Share this pageEmailPrint
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Model works out trees' maximum height
By Mark Kinver
Environment reporter, BBC News

Researchers hope the model will help ecologists improve their understanding of forest ecosystems
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Scientists have developed a mathematical model that predicts the maximum height trees can reach in particular environmental conditions.

They hope their model will help ecologists get a better understanding of the relationship between trees and the surrounding ecosystem.

The tool could also help policymakers calculate how climate shifts could affect timber yields, they added.

The findings have been published in the journal Plos One.

"The real goal of the model was to produce something that was based in fundamental mechanisms," explained co-author Chris Kempes, a PhD researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences.

"This looks at the basic physics affecting a tree, such as internal fluid flow and the structure of the canopy," he told BBC News.

"We really wanted something that was based in those mechanisms but at the same time was, conceptually, relatively simple."

He said tree branches formed a fractal, which meant that if you effectively cut off a branch and then enlarged it, it looked like a whole tree.

"If you nail down that network structure correctly, then you can use it to predict how things change with size."

From this framework, the team then incorporated local meteorological data, such as rainfall and mean annual temperatures, to allow them to predict the maximum height of trees in the area.

Continue reading the main story

The model was based on a "generalised tree" and did not take into account traits of particular species

Your pictures: Trees
When compared with official data collected by the US Forest Service, the team found that their predictions tied in closely with the actual measurements.

Interestingly, the model was based upon an "idealised" tree - one that was designed to represent all tree species, and was not adapted to reflect the type of tree being modelled.

"If we are making a prediction in the North-West, where there is a lot of rain and very tall trees, or if we are making a prediction in the South-West, we don't actually change the model in terms of species traits," Mr Kempes said.

"Our 'test tree' that we use to make these predictions remains the same across environments."

The team also used the model to look at what would happen to maximum tree heights if there was a change in the national mean annual temperature.

They found that a 2C (3.6F) increase resulted in the average maximum height of trees shrinking by 11%, while a 2C decrease in the nation's average temperature saw a 13% increase in the predicted maximum height of trees.

Mr Kempes observed that this sort of prediction could be useful for policymakers who wanted to know what sort of impact climatic shifts would have on the country's forests.

"[The model] might help inform any number of policies in terms of how much you could expect timber yields to change," he said.

He added that the model was likely to work in other regions of the world, not just in the US.

The team hope to develop the model in a way that will allow them to predict the potential height of particular tree species.

"If you take a really small juniper tree that lives in the desert and you put it in the North-West, it will grow to perhaps four times as tall, but it won't grow to be the height of a redwood.

"This is what all of ecology is interested in: how much of your existence is determined by the environment verses your genetics?"
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#59479 - 08/04/11 06:42 PM Re: No pseudo science [Re: Advocacy group]
oenophore Online   confused
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Interestingly, the model was based upon an "idealised" tree - one that was designed to represent all tree species, and was not adapted to reflect the type of tree being modelled.

That's one helluva model. The tallest trees are redwoods of foggy rainy northern California and giant eucalypti of a part of Australia with less rainfall.
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#59487 - 08/04/11 10:01 PM Re: No pseudo science [Re: oenophore]
yorick Offline
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Registered: 11/15/02
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I once tended bar at an event for the Weyerhauser family. Good guys, many thoughtful and sensitive, and one of them asked me how I liked Seattle when I mentioned I'd lived there.

I said, with all due respect, the Cascades are trashed, that there were few days in my life more depressing than driving through miles of clear-cuts before entering the old growth rainforest island that is now Rainier.

One of them said, "We plant three trees for every one we take out."

I said, "But how do you replace a 10,000 year-old ecosystem?"

They just looked at me.
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#59496 - 08/05/11 02:57 AM Re: No pseudo science [Re: yorick]
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
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Originally Posted By: yorick
I once tended bar at an event for the Weyerhauser family. Good guys, many thoughtful and sensitive, and one of them asked me how I liked Seattle when I mentioned I'd lived there.

I said, with all due respect, the Cascades are trashed, that there were few days in my life more depressing than driving through miles of clear-cuts before entering the old growth rainforest island that is now Rainier.

One of them said, "We plant three trees for every one we take out."

I said, "But how do you replace a 10,000 year-old ecosystem?"

They just looked at me.


With all due respect, hasn't hunting also extirpated many species and complete ecosystems. I was surprised to read that the Eastern Cougar Foundation is in favor of hunting these animals. Sounds like a front to a sport hunting group to me.
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#59499 - 08/05/11 06:50 AM Re: No pseudo science [Re: Advocacy group]
yorick Offline
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Registered: 11/15/02
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Originally Posted By: Advocacy group
Sounds like a front to a sport hunting group to me.


"As well, the Eastern Cougar Foundation is not opposed to sustainable sport hunting of cougars in areas where significant cougar populations are documented. However, at this time there are no such populations documented in the eastern United States."

We sent this alert out to our members on October 4th asking them to write the SDGFP to voice opposition to SD's unsustainable hunting quota for the Black Hills,

http://easterncougar.org/CougarNews/?p=2354
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#59500 - 08/05/11 11:39 AM Re: No pseudo science [Re: yorick]
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Oh sustainable sport hunting..........that's funny! So the very group that caused the ecological collapse is now in charge of determining a sustainable "cull". It's like the tobacco industry showing studies that their products are safe. There is no way hunting can ever be done sustainably, nature has always had the balance it needed to progress as an ecosystem. Seems pretty arrogant Yorick to think that a study over such a short period of time can determine what an ecosystem can withstand. Hunting may work to maintain animal population in areas that are completely managed but in nature ecosystems ebb and flow and progress. I would love see these studies done by the sport hunting groups and anticipate that they are as flawed as their deer population studies.
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

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#59503 - 08/05/11 11:52 AM Re: No pseudo science [Re: Advocacy group]
yorick Offline
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Yep. It's all pretty much a mess. There are few states now managing their cougar population's sustainably. That's why we support the proposals in Cougar Management Guidelines,

http://www.opalcreekpress.com/book_cmg.php

California is the model state, which banned cougar hunting in 1990:
biggest population, fewest ratio of conflicts, most stable population of cougars.
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#59505 - 08/05/11 12:01 PM Re: No pseudo science [Re: yorick]
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
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It seems like you're on both sides of the fence. You seem to be an Advocate of hunting cougars while simultaneously saying the state which has banned hunting cougars is the perfect model.
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

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#59508 - 08/05/11 12:35 PM Re: No pseudo science [Re: Advocacy group]
yorick Offline
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Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 1041
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Advocates for sustainable management of cougars, which may include hunting, but hunting has had significant conflict and trouble being implemented on the ground. States don't manage for age and sex, which disrupts cougar social dynamics. Hence, the plug for Cougar Management Guidelines.

The best management model developed so far is the one that leaves cougars alone, pretty much.
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#59509 - 08/05/11 12:39 PM Re: No pseudo science [Re: yorick]
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Registered: 08/03/10
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"The best management model developed so far is the one that leaves cougars alone, pretty much."


Agreed. Thanks for your insight.
_________________________
The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.

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