Canadian Forest Service Publications

The responses of black spruce growth to an increased proportion of aspen in mixed stands. 2004. Légaré, S.; Paré, D.; Bergeron, Y. Can. J. For. Res. 34: 405-416.

Year: 2004

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 24881

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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In the southeastern boreal forest of Canada, the presence of mixed stands of black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) growing in similar abiotic conditions offers the opportunity to study the influence of aspen on stand volume and spruce growth. A regression analysis performed on field data from the ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec showed a significant relationship between the relative basal area of aspen (aspen relative basal area was determined by the ratio of aspen basal area to total basal area of the stand) and the total stand merchantable volume after accounting for stand density. However, the relationship between total black spruce volume and relative basal area of aspen was not significant, implying that the volume gain was, in fact, aspen fibre. The positive effects of aspen on black spruce DBH and height were only present when the proportion of aspen in the stand ranged between 0% and 41% of the total stand basal area. These results suggest that aspen uses a different niche than black spruce. Furthermore, the significant increase in black spruce dominant height along the aspen gradient suggests that aspen enhances soil fertility by its influence on nutrient availability. The management of mixed stands, which make up an important proportion on the landscape, offers an example as to how commercial management of the forest can be in agreement with ecosystem management.