Aspen Bibliography


Are we maintaining aspen productivity on sand soils?

Document Type

Contribution to Book


Improving Forest Productivity For Timber--A Key to Sustainability. Proceedings of Conference


B. Zum Bahlen, A.R. Ek


Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota

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Management activities that decrease soil porosity and/or remove organic matter have been associated with declines in site productivity. We deter- mined effects of soil compaction and organic matter removal (OMR) on soil proper- ties and aboveground productivity of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx. and P. grandidentata Michx.) suckers, associated woody species, and herbaceous vegetation on a Rubicon sand in northeastern lower Michigan. Three levels of OMR—(1) merchantable bole harvest (MBH), (2) total tree harvest (TTH), and (3) TTH plus forest floor removal (FFR)—and three levels of soil compaction were applied. Compaction and FFR each increased fourth-year sucker density about 20%.

“Heavy” compaction increased aspen diameter and height by about 10% and biomass by 20%. FFR decreased sucker diameter, height, and dry weight by more than 20%. Total aboveground biomass production (herbs + shrubs + aspen + associated species) decreased with increased OMR. Retention of organic matter appears critical to sustaining long-term productivity of aspen-dominated ecosystems on sand soils. As an interim guideline for aspen harvesting on sand soils, we recommend limbing at the stump and retaining of slash on site.