Unlike fire or insect outbreaks, for which a suppression program can be implemented, it is impossible to prevent a windstorm event or stop it while it is occurring. Reducing stand susceptibility to windstorms requires a good understanding of the factors affecting this susceptibility. Distinct species- and size-related differences in stem windthrow susceptibility are difficult to obtain because it is impossible to distinguish their relative effects from those of wind intensity. Using a damage assessment database (60 20-metre ra- dius plots) acquired after an exceptional wind storm in Western Quebec in 2007, we developed an ap- proach in which proportions of windthrown sugar maple poles were used as bio-indicators of wind inten- sities affecting the plots. We distinguished between single and interactive effects of wind intensity, spe- cies, stem size, and local basal area on stem windthrow susceptibility. The best logistic regression model predicting stem windthrow included the wind intensity bio-indicator, species, basal area, and the species by diameter at breast height (DBH, 1.3 m) interaction. Stem windthrow probability generally increased with DBH and decreased with basal area. Species wind-firmness was ordered as: yellow birch > sugar maple = eastern hemlock = American beech > ironwood > basswood = other hardwoods = other soft- woods. Our method remained an indirect method of measuring wind intensity and its real test would re- quire a comparison with anemometer measurements during a windstorm. Despite its indirect nature, the method is both simple and ecologically sound. Hence, it opens the door to conducting similar windthrow studies in other ecosystems.
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