Date of Completion


Embargo Period



John C. Volin, Jason Parent, David R. Miller, Thomas E. Worthley, Mark Rudnicki

Field of Study

Natural Resources


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Trees are the most common cause of utility damage and power outages during storms in the northeastern United States. Previous studies on tree sway and risk-of-wind-throw have largely been conducted in heavily managed, even-aged, monospecific coniferous stands, while relatively little is known for northeastern mixed temperate deciduous forests. Past studies have suggested a relationship of fundamental vibrational frequencies (FVF) to wind-firmness. The objective of this study was to identify factors determining tree sway frequency in temperate deciduous forests from characteristics of tree architecture, stand structure and wind conditions. To this end, the motion of 41 trees across nine different species from three sites in southern New England was monitored. Their FVF were calculated and regressed against a number of potential predictor variables to create a predictive model for FVF.

Results showed that significant predictors included a calculation of slenderness that has been found to predict FVF in studies on coniferous trees, namely diameter at breast height (DBH) divided by tree height squared (H2), as well as environmental variables accounting for the presence or absence of leaves and temperatures above or below freezing. The results of this study highlight the importance of tree shape in predicting FVF, and tree shape forms similarly (tall slender trunks) in a closed canopy forest succession situation regardless of species mix or location. This relationship of FVF to an attribute that can be managed for, such as DBH×H-2, may help to mitigate tree-related storm damage to utility infrastructure.

Major Advisor

John C. Volin