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Relationship between Aboveground Biomass and Percent Cover of Ground Vegetation in Canadian Boreal Plain Riparian Forests

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Vegetation biomass is the ideal variable to estimate vegetation abundance and productivity and is necessary for studies of community structure. However, biomass data are difficult and destructive to collect, unlike areal cover data. To date, equations to predict biomass from percent cover have been developed for upland ground flora; however, these equations are lacking for riparian forests. We quantified relationships between aboveground biomass and percent cover of eight ground floristic growth forms (short forbs, tall forbs, ferns, clubmosses, horsetails, graminoids, dwarf shrubs, and bryoids) in riparian forests of the Canadian Boreal Plain and tested whether relationships differ for ground plants growing in two different successful stages (early and late). Without exception, linear relationships were identified with percent cover (P < 0.001) that explained 61‐93% of the variation in biomass. Slopes of these lines depended on growth form but not on successional stage. When direct biomass measurements are not appropriate or possible, the relationships presented can be used to rapidly and nondestructively estimate biomass in the Boreal Plain riparian forests.

Keywords: allometric equations; boreal forest; riparian; seral stage; understory vegetation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2012

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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.

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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