Predicting trunk flare diameter to prevent tree damage to infrastructure

Deborah R. Hilbert, Eric A. North, Richard J. Hauer, Andrew K. Koeser, Drew C. McLean, Robert J. Northrop, Michael Andreu, Stephani Parbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Tree roots often come in conflict with elements of the built environment, particularly when planted in limited soil locations. For street trees located between roadways and sidewalks, minimum planting width requirements can be calculated to prevent large supporting roots from lifting or growing over paved surfaces. In this study, we used diameter at breast height (DBH) to predict trunk flare diameter for common shade tree species from four different communities in the United States (Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Tampa). These predictive models were then used to calculate minimum width requirements to reduce infrastructure damage given the maximum expected DBH measurements for each species based on existing urban forest inventory data in the communities studied. For all ten taxa tested, DBH was a significant predictor of trunk flare diameter (minimum R2 = 0.81), indicating that this commonly used urban forestry measurement can be used to design minimum growing space based on selected species to potentially prevent root and infrastructure conflicts. The methods employed in this paper can be easily replicated by other researchers in order to create guidelines for species and environments not captured in our data set. Alternatively, broader functions for estimating trunk flare based on DBH are provided for species based on natural habitat type (i.e., upland, wetland, variable).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126645
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Tampa, Florida portion of this work was supported by a Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association Endowed Research Fund Project Enhancement Award. We thank Brooke Anderson for assistance with data collection, proofing, and creating the map figure; and Haley Campanella, Hunter Thorn, and Erin Downey for help with data collection and entry. We also thank our partners from the City of Tampa, including Kathy Beck, Eric Muecke, and Stan Wood. The Milwaukee, WI work was financially supported by the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Grant from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. We also thank the UWSP College of Natural Resources for financial support and sponsorship with the publication of this paper. Finally, we sincerely thank the TREE Fund, Wisconsin Arborist Association, USDA ? Forest Service, and the USDA McIntire-Stennis Program for funding that was crucial for prior research associated with this project and was vital to this current effort. We thank the assistance of Jeff Laufenberg (Urban Forestry Manager) and Kurt Klemstein (Urban Forestry Crew Leader) for their logistical assistance with locating records and data collection.

Funding Information:
The Tampa, Florida portion of this work was supported by a Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association Endowed Research Fund Project Enhancement Award. We thank Brooke Anderson for assistance with data collection, proofing, and creating the map figure; and Haley Campanella, Hunter Thorn, and Erin Downey for help with data collection and entry. We also thank our partners from the City of Tampa, including Kathy Beck, Eric Muecke, and Stan Wood. The Milwaukee, WI work was financially supported by the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Grant from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. We also thank the UWSP College of Natural Resources for financial support and sponsorship with the publication of this paper. Finally, we sincerely thank the TREE Fund, Wisconsin Arborist Association, USDA – Forest Service, and the USDA McIntire-Stennis Program for funding that was crucial for prior research associated with this project and was vital to this current effort. We thank the assistance of Jeff Laufenberg (Urban Forestry Manager) and Kurt Klemstein (Urban Forestry Crew Leader) for their logistical assistance with locating records and data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier GmbH

Keywords

  • Allometry
  • Curb damage
  • Root system
  • Sidewalk damage
  • Street tree
  • Urban tree

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