Foliar Responses of Understorey Abies lasiocarpa to Different Degrees of Release Cutting in a Betula papyrifera and Conifer Mixed Species Stand
Foliar responses of subalpine fir [Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.] to thinning were studied in a 35-yr-old mixed stand of paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and conifers. The stand regenerated naturally after a wildfire with a canopy dominated by paper birch (average height 9.8 m) and an understorey dominated by subalpine fir (average height 1.6 m). The stand was thinned to four densities of birch: 0, 600 and 1200 stems ha-1 and control (unthinned at 2300-6400 stems ha-1) in the autumn of 1995. The understorey conifers, mainly subalpine fir, were thinned to 1200 stems ha-1. The study used a completely randomized split-plot design. Three sample trees were systematically selected from each treatment replicate and each tree stratum (upper, intermediate and lower understorey). One-year-old and older age class needles were collected from one south-facing branch within the fifth whorl from the tree top. Thinning of paper birch significantly (p <0.001) increased leaf area and dry weight per 100 needles for intermediate and short trees except in the 0 birch treatment. Understorey subalpine fir trees in 600 stems ha1 birch (T3) had the largest leaf area and leaf dry weight per 100 1-yr-old needles. Specific leaf area (SLA) decreased from unthinned (T1) to 0 birch (T4). Lower understorey trees had the largest SLA. One-year-old needles had significantly higher N, P and K concentrations in all the thinning treatments. These responses are consistent with the shade tolerance of subalpine fir. The results suggest that when managing a paper birch-conifers mixed-wood forest it may be of benefit to understorey conifers to leave a birch canopy as a nursing crop.
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Document Type: Research Article
Red Rock Research Station, Ministry of Forests, 18435 Forest Nursery Road, Prince George, BC, Canada V2N 5Y7
BC Ministry of Forests, Research Branch, P.O. Box 9519, Station Provincial Government, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 9C2
BC Ministry of Forests, Prince George Forest Region, 1011 4th Ave., Prince George, BC, Canada V2L 3H9
Publication date: 2000-12-01
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