Regeneration Dynamics of Planted Seedling-Origin Aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.)
Aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) is a foundational tree species of the North American boreal forest. After disturbance, clonal aspen stands quickly achieve canopy closure by sending up numerous clonal shoots (root suckers) from their lateral root system. Controlled aboveground disturbance will commonly induce prolific root suckering and thereby increase stem density in clonal aspen stands, but it is unclear if increases in stem density will be observed in planted seedling-origin aspen stands. The objectives of this study were to determine (1) overall root suckering response of planted aspen to aboveground disturbance; (2) if different cut heights of the stem or infliction of root damage impact the number of root suckers produced. We found that planted aspen regenerated readily after disturbance, averaging five root suckers per cut tree. However, individual response was highly variable, ranging from zero to 29 root suckers per root system. Of the cut trees, 75% produced at least one root sucker and 60% produced at least one stump sprout. Cutting trees close to the soil surface produced more root suckers than leaving a 25 cm stump. While root system size (mass and length) was well correlated with aboveground measures of planted aspen, root suckering was not related to root system size. As a result of increased forest reclamation efforts in the boreal forest region the planting of aspen has become a more common practice, necessitating a better understanding of the regeneration dynamics and root suckering potential of these planted and seedling-origin aspen forests.
King, C.M. & Landhäusser, S.M. Regeneration dynamics of planted seedling-orgin aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.). New Forests (2018) 49: 215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-017-9614-4