Canadian Forest Service Publications

Influence of woody and herbaceous competition on microclimate and growth of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) seedlings planted in a central Ontario clearcut. 2009. Parker, W.C.; Pitt, D.G.; Morneault, A.E. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 2013 - 2025.

Year: 2009

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 31171

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Abstract

The influence of woody and herbaceous plant competition, either alone or in combination, on microclimate and growth of planted eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) seedlings was examined over four consecutive growing seasons in a central Ontario clearcut. Treatments that manipulated the comparative abundance of these two plant functional groups significantly affected light availability, soil moisture, and air and soil temperature regimes. These microclimate alterations, coupled with the relative competitiveness of herbaceous and woody vegetation, corresponded to temporal changes in vegetation cover and dominance. The more rapid colonization and growth of the herbaceous plant community, dominated by bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) and ericaceous shrubs (Kalmia sp., Vaccinium sp.), resulted in this form of vegetation being a comparatively important early competitor for soil moisture. As the woody plant community, dominated by naturally regenerated trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.), grew in height and leaf area, it became a comparatively strong competitor for both light and soil moisture. For all vegetation treatments combined, white pine seedling growth responses were strongly correlated with total cover of competing vegetation and its relative influence on above- and belowground microclimatic variables. Higher total cover of competing vegetation was generally associated with lower light and soil moisture availability and cooler soil temperatures. Multiple regression analyses indicated that pine seedling relative height growth increased with soil moisture content and growing season soil heat sum, while seedling relative diameter and relative volume growth increased with light availability.