Effects of Management Treatments on Regeneration of a Geographically Disjunct, Relictual Hybrid Aspen (Populus xsmithii) Population in the Central Great Plains, USA
Springer New York LLC
Populus xsmithii is an uncommon hybrid of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata). Like its parents, Populus xsmithii is an early successional member of boreal forest communities, dependent on disturbance events that clear areas of competitive stems and spur an increase in clonal suckering. In recent years, aspen dieback has been noted across much of the western United States, a condition characterized by mortality of older stems and a lack of recruitment of suckers to maturity. In the Niobrara River Valley of Cherry County, Nebraska, USA, a disjunct population of Pleistocene relict Populus xsmithii has been targeted for management via clearing of competitive conifer species and establishment of fenced refugia to protect suckers from herbivory. The stands currently contain abundant suckers, which occur in three types of sites: the fenced refugia created by managers, the open habitat cleared of other species in the stands, and the woodpiles left by said clearing. This study assessed the growth and vigor of these aspen suckers over a nine-month period (summer 2013–spring 2014) and compared the effects of different site treatments. We found that aspen suckers in the open areas were significantly shorter, had smaller basal diameter, and had higher damage scores than those in the two protected site types (fenced and woodpile). Because this population is on the margin of the distribution for aspen, evaluating the effectiveness of management techniques will provide valuable information for those who seek to ensure the survival of this aspen population and others.
Robertson, J.M., Cahlander-Mooers, A.R. & Dixon, M.D. Effects of Management Treatments on Regeneration of a Geographically Disjunct, Relictual Hybrid Aspen (Populus xsmithii) Population in the Central Great Plains, USA. Environmental Management 62, 906–914 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-018-1092-8