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Xylogenesis in black spruce subjected to rain exclusion in the field

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The predicted climate warming and more frequent and longer droughts are expected to produce potentially severe water stresses in the boreal forest. The aim of this experiment was to study the effect of a summer drought on xylem phenology and anatomy of mature black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) trees in their natural environment. The trees were excluded from rain during June–September 2010 by the installation of under-canopy roofs in four sites of the boreal forest of Quebec. Xylem phenology, stem radius variations, and physiological traits of treated and control trees were monitored at short time resolution. At the end of the growth season, cell characteristics were measured. The rain exclusion reduced the cell area of the xylem, but no significant change was observed in cell wall thickness, cell production, or phenology. Stem radius variations of the treated trees were lower but followed the same pattern as the control. After removal of the exclusion, trees and soil quickly recovered their normal water status. One summer of drought led to the formation of smaller tracheids but showed that black spruce is resistant to this rain exclusion treatment. This is likely due to the ability to collect water from sources other than the superficial soil horizon.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2012

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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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