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Vertical fine root distributions of western redcedar, western hemlock, and salal in old-growth cedar–hemlock forests on northern Vancouver Island

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Abstract:

The vertical distributions of fine roots of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don), and salal (Gaultheria shallon Pursh) were characterized in old-growth cedar–hemlock forests on northern Vancouver Island. Total biomasses of cedar, hemlock, and salal roots in the forest floor and upper mineral soil were 817, 620, and 187 g·m–2, respectively. Hemlock and salal fine roots were concentrated in the upper forest floor, while cedar fine roots were evenly distributed through the profile. Salal and hemlock fine root densities (g·m–3) in the forest floor and mineral soil were positively correlated, as were salal and cedar root biomass distributions (g·m–2). Only salal and hemlock root densities were significantly correlated with N concentrations. Hemlock root densities were negatively correlated with total N, and salal root densities were negatively correlated with total N and soluble organic N. Based on fine root densities, hemlock and salal probably compete for resources in the upper forest floor, whereas cedar accesses resources in the lower organic and mineral soil horizons. The differences in the vertical distributions of cedar, hemlock, and salal fine roots may partly explain the co-occurrence and different productivities of the three species in cedar-hemlock forests.

La distribution verticale des racines fines de la pruche de l'Ouest (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.), du thuya géant (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don) et du salal (Gaultheria shallon Pursh) a été caractérisée dans les forêts anciennes de thuya et de pruche du Nord de l'île de Vancouver. La biomasse totale des racines du thuya, de la pruche et du salal dans la couverture morte et la partie supérieure du sol minéral atteint respectivement 817, 620 et 187 g·m–2. Les racines fines de la pruche et du salal sont concentrées dans la partie supérieure de la couverture morte tandis que les racines fines du thuya sont uniformément réparties dans le profil de sol. La densité des racines fines (g·m–3) du salal et de celles de la pruche sont positivement corrélées dans la couverture morte et le sol minéral, de même que la distribution de la biomasse des racines (g·m–2) dans le cas du salal et du thuya. Seules la densité des racines du salal et de celles de la pruche sont significativement corrélées avec la concentration de N. La densité des racines de la pruche est négativement corrélée avec la quantité totale de N; la densité des racines du salal est négativement corrélée avec la quantité totale de N et la quantité de N organique soluble. Sur la base de la densité des racines fines, la pruche et le salal compétitionnent probablement pour les ressources dans la partie supérieure de la couverture morte tandis que le thuya a accès aux ressources de l'horizon organique et du sol minéral situés au-dessous. Les différences dans la distribution verticale des racines fines du thuya, de la pruche et du salal peuvent en partie expliquer la coexistence et la différence de productivité des trois espèces dans les forêts de thuya et de pruche.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2002

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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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