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Beneficial influence of plant neighbours on tree growth in drained forested peatlands: a case study

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Abstract:

In boreal forest, drainage can be successfully used to lower the water-table level of postharvest forested peatland stands suffering from watering-up. The later vegetation revival and growth is suspected to gradually create a water-table drawdown described in this study as biological drainage. Its effect on the annual stump diameter increment of planted eastern larch (Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch) and naturally regenerated black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) was studied on a postharvested and drained forested peatland located in eastern part of the Canadian boreal forest. A factor describing the neighbourhood occupancy of every subject tree was used to illustrate biological drainage in a retrospective growth analysis. Results showed the dual effect of the neighbourhood occupancy factor: competing situations close to the ditch and growth-favouring situations farther from it. In the latter case, the studied trees demonstrated better growth with moderately increasing neighbourhood occupancy. This was interpreted as evidence of the beneficial effect of biological drainage on tree growth. The presence of speckled alder (Alnus incana subsp.rugosa (Du Roi) J. Clausen) in the neighbourhood of selected trees corresponded to improved growth for both studied species.

En forêt boréale, le drainage permet de rabattre efficacement la nappe phréatique des tourbières forestières récemment récoltées affectés par une nappe haute. La croissance subséquente de la végétation forestière sur ces sites est susceptible de créer un rabattement de la nappe phréatique, appelé ici drainage biologique. Son effet sur l'accroissement annuel en diamètre à la souche de plants de mélèze laricin (Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch) et de semis naturels d'épinette noire (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) a été étudié sur une tourbière forestière récoltée et drainée. Un facteur décrivant l'occupation du voisinage des arbres étudiés a été utilisé afin de décrire le drainage biologique dans une analyse de croissance rétrospective. Les résultats ont démontré les deux effets opposés de l'occupation du voisinage sur l'accroissement en diamètre : des situations de compétition à proximité des fossés et des situations favorables à la croissance forestière plus loin. Dans ce dernier cas, les arbres étudiés ont démontrés une meilleure croissance avec une augmentation modérée de l'occupation du voisinage. Ceci a été interprété comme une démonstration de l'effet bénéfique du drainage biologique sur la croissance forestière. La présence d'aulne rugueux (Alnus incana subsp.rugosa (Du Roi) J. Clausen) dans le voisinage des arbres étudiés correspondait à une croissance accrue des deux essences étudiées.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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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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