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Reply to comment by Messier et al. on “Present-day expansion of American beech in northeastern hardwood forests: Does soil base status matter?”

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Abstract:

We respond to the comment by Messier et al. (2011. Can. J. For. Res. 41: 649–653) on our recent paper questioning the possible influence of the base status of soils in the present-day expansion of American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) in Quebec (2009. Can. J. For. Res. 39: 2273–2282). From our observations, as well as from a large body of scientific evidence reporting on the high sensitivity of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) to the acid–base status of soils, we hypothesized that soil base cation depletion, caused in part by atmospheric deposition, is among the main factors involved in the present-day expansion of American beech over large areas in Quebec. Clearly, we suggested in our paper that acid deposition might act with other factors to explain the expansion of American beech. In this context, our conclusions are far from any oversimplified explanation, as stated by Messier et al., but rather, they point out a level of complexity above the one currently discussed.

Nous répondons au commentaire de Messier et al. (2011. Rev. can. rech. for. 41: 649–653) au sujet de notre article publié récemment (2009. Rev. can. rech. for. 39: 2273–2282) traitant de l’influence potentielle de la teneur en cations basiques du sol sur l’expansion actuelle du hêtre à grandes feuilles (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) au Québec. Sur la base de nos observations et d’une masse de données scientifiques concernant la grande sensibilité de l’érable à sucre (Acer saccharum Marsh.) à l’équilibre acides–bases dans le sol, nous avons émis l’hypothèse que l’épuisement des cations basiques du sol, causé en partie par les dépôts atmosphériques acides, serait un des principaux facteurs responsables de l’expansion actuelle du hêtre à grandes feuilles sur de vastes superficies au Québec. Nous avons clairement indiqué dans notre article que les dépôts acides pourraient interagir avec d’autres facteurs pour expliquer l’expansion du hêtre à grandes feuilles. Dans ce contexte, nos conclusions sont loin d’être des explications simplistes comme l’affirment Messier et al.; elles font plutôt ressortir un degré de complexité supérieur à celui qui fait présentement l’objet des discussions.

Document Type: Discussion

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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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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