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The balance of planting and mortality in a street tree population

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Roman, Lara A.; Battles, John J.; McBride, Joe R.

Year Published



Urban Ecosystems. 18 p. 10.1007/s11252-013-0320-5.


Street trees have aesthetic, environmental, human health, and economic benefits in urban ecosystems. Street tree populations are constructed by cycles of planting, growth, death, removal and replacement. The goals of this study were to understand how tree mortality and planting rates affect net population growth, evaluate the shape of the mortality curve, and assess selected risk factors for survival. We monitored a street tree population in West Oakland, CA for 5 years after an initial inventory (2006). We adapted the classic demographic balancing equation to quantify annual inputs and outputs to the system, tracking pools of live and standing dead trees. There was a 17.2 % net increase in live tree counts during the study period (995 in 2006, 1166 in 2011), with population growth observed each year. Of the live trees in 2006, 822 survived to 2011, for an annual mortality rate of 3.7 %. However, population growth was constrained by high mortality of young/small trees. Annual mortality was highest for small trees, and lower for mid-size and large trees; this represents a Type III mortality curve. We used multivariate logistic regression to evaluate the relationship between 2011 survival outcomes and inventory data from 2006. In the final model, significant associations were found for size class, foliage condition, planting location, and a multiplicative interaction term for size and foliage condition. Street tree populations are complex cultivated systems whose dynamics can be understood by a combination of longitudinal data and demographic analysis. Urban forest monitoring is important to understand the impact of tree planting programs.


Demography; Monitoring; Mortality curve; Oakland; Survivorship; Urban forest


Roman, Lara A.; Battles, John J.; McBride, Joe R. 2013. The balance of planting and mortality in a street tree population. Urban Ecosystems. 18 p. 10.1007/s11252-013-0320-5.

Last updated on: February 7, 2014