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Effect of Depth to Water Table on Height Growth of Tree Seedlings in a Greenhouse

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Seedlings of Pinus banksiana, P. resinosa, Picea mariana, and P. glauca were grown from seed on two sandy soils for 14 months in sloping tanks in a greenhouse. A gradient of 18 to 160 cm to water table was maintained. Height curves for the two pines and for Picea mariana indicated distinct optimum depths to water table. Picea glauca performed differently, showing a pronounced response to early heavy surface watering of the upper slope area. Upper slope trends for the two pines and Picea mariana on the finer textured soil showed a gradual height increase, while those on the coarser soil showed no height increase to within short distances of the maxima. Height growth on the lower slope beyond the optimum depths declined rapidly in all species. Only Pinus resinosa showed mortality at the minimum depth to water table on the sandy soil; this was related to its inability to produce sufficiently long laterals to extend into the less wet portion of the tank. Black spruce on the upper slope of the sandy soil died when surface watering was discontinued after one year of growth; the killing was associated with its inability to form more extensive root systems in this soil. The experiment supported the assumption that depth to water table provides a major edaphic control of Pinus banksiana height growth on sandy soils. It also partially explains the low incidence of black spruce on sandy upland soils in southeastern Manitoba.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Botany, Univ of Hawaii, Honolulu

Publication date: 1964-09-01

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
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    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
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