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Response of Populus tremuloides, Populus balsamifera, Betula papyrifera and Picea glauca Seedlings to Low Soil Temperature and Water-logged Soil Conditions

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Populus balsamifera L., Betula papyrifera Marsh., Populus tremuloides Michx. and Picea glauca (Moench) Voss seedlings were grown in specialized pots that maintained a constant water-table height and allowed monitoring of water use by the tree/pot under high water-table conditions and different soil temperatures. The trees were grown at imperfectly and poorly drained water table conditions and at 5, 10 or 20°C soil temperature. In P. balsamifera, net assimilation and transpiration remained high under wet soil conditions and increased with higher soil temperatures. Populus balsamifera growth and leaf area development were severely restricted at soil temperatures of 5°C. Both B. papyrifera and P. tremuloides had low transpiration and pot level water-use rates at both water-table conditions and these did not significantly increase with increasing soil temperature. Picea glauca was negatively affected by high water tables but showed minimal response to soil temperature changes. The study suggests that P. balsamifera would be a good hydrological nurse crop to lower the water table when soils are warm, while B. papyrifera is likely to be a good nurse species in cool and imperfectly drained sites.
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Keywords: Balsam poplar; flooding stress; forest regeneration; leaf area development; paper birch; silviculture; trembling aspen; vegetation management; water use

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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