Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) establishment dynamics during a spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) outbreak: an evaluation of the impact of aging techniques

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The effects of recurrent spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.)) outbreaks on balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) mortality have been extensively studied in Canada. Most studies report substantial seedling recruitment of balsam fir during outbreaks when reproductive trees are dying. According to previous research, this contradiction could be due to inaccuracies in the conventional aging method. Counting the maximum number of growth rings found at the tree base would significantly underestimate tree age. Counting terminal bud scars found on the entire trunk, including buried stem, would give a more accurate tree age. In this study, we compare recruitment dynamics obtained for aging seedlings in two balsam fir populations (about 500 km apart) using (i) the conventional method and (ii) bud scar counts. For both populations, the conventional method shows substantial recruitment during adult mortality, while the second aging technique reveals reduced recruitment during the epidemic phase of the spruce budworm outbreak.

Les effets des épidémies de la tordeuse des bourgeons de l'épinette (Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.)) sur la mortalité des sapinières boréales (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) ont été largement documentés au Canada. La plupart des études rapportent un important recrutement de semis de sapin durant une épidémie alors que meurent les sapins matures. Selon la recherche auparavant, cette contradiction serait due à l'inexactitude de la méthode conventionnellement utilisée pour estimer l'âge des semis. Le décompte du nombre maximal de cernes de croissance à la base du tronc sous-estimerait de façon importante l'âge réel des semis. Le compte des cicatrices d'écailles du bourgeon terminal sur tout le tronc, incluant la partie enfouie de la tige, serait une méthode plus appropriée. La présente étude compare la dynamique du recrutement de deux populations de semis de sapin baumier lorsque l'âge est estimé (i) par la méthode conventionnelle et (ii) par le compte des cicatrices d'écailles du bourgeon terminal sur tout le tronc. Environ 500 km séparaient les deux populations. Dans les deux cas, la méthode conventionnelle révèle des structures d'âge discordantes avec la mortalité des adultes. Par contre, les structures d'âge obtenues avec l'autre méthode indiquent une réduction du recrutement des semis durant la période épidémique.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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