Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) volume growth in the boreal mixedwood: Effect of partial harvesting, tree social status, and neighborhood competition
Forest Ecology and Management
Variable retention harvesting, with a focus on maintaining biological legacies on managed landscapes, has been practised in the trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) dominated boreal mixedwood forests for about two decades. However, little attention has actually been given to the growth response of aspen to partial harvesting. This is the first study to report on tree-level volume growth response of aspen after partial or variable retention harvesting in the Canadian boreal forest. During the winter of 1998–1999, an uncut control, clearcut and two partial harvesting treatments – 1/3 partial cut (1/3PC, 33% BA removal using low thin); 2/3 partial cut (2/3PC, 61% BA removal using high thin) – were applied in 75 year old aspen-dominated mixedwood stands in a complete randomized block design. Twelve years after treatment application, 27 dominant and 27 co-dominant trees were collected from unharvested controls and the two partial cut treatments for stem analysis. Annual volume increment (AVI) of individual stems was analyzed as a function of treatment, tree social status, pre-treatment growth, time since treatment application (1–12 years) and neighborhood competition. The latter was estimated using a variety of neighborhood competition indices (NCI). There was no evidence of initial growth stagnation after partial harvesting applications. Only the most severe treatment of partial harvesting (2/3 PC) resulted in an increase in volume increment relative to trees in control stands. Annual increase in volume in the 2/3 partial cut was 25.6% higher than controls over 12 years. AVI of dominant trees was higher by 16.2 dm3 yr−1 than that of co-dominants and was proportional to pre-treatment volume growth. No interaction between treatment and social status or pre-treatment growth was observed. The overall results indicate that competition for resources in these stands is essentially size symmetrical. These results should contribute to the development of silviculture prescriptions that aim to maintain both stand productivity and biological legacies.
Bose, A. K., S. Brais, and B. D. Harvey. 2014. Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) volume growth in the boreal mixedwood: Effect of partial harvesting, tree social status, and neighborhood competition. Forest Ecology and Management 327:209-220.