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Effects of microsite alteration on soil climate, nitrogen mineralization, and establishment of Picea Glauca x Engelmannii seedlings in the sub-boreal spruce zone of west-central British Columbia



Graduation date: 1991Site preparation treatments are often used prior to the planting of clearcut\ud forest lands to improve planter access and to increase the number and quality of\ud planting spots. Most mechanical site preparation treatments alter the\ud configuration and material composition of surface soil materials, and can have\ud marked effects on soil properties important to seedling survival and growth.\ud Effects of some of these treatments on soil moisture, soil temperature, rates of\ud nitrogen mineralization, and the establishment of Picea glauca x engelmannii\ud seedlings were examined on fresh, moist, and wet sites in the moist cold subzone\ud of the Sub-boreal Spruce Zone in west-central British Columbia. Four types of\ud microsite alteration were investigated: forest floor removal (spot scalping), soil\ud mounds over inverted sections of forest floor (inverted mounds), mineral soil\ud mounds over a mineral soil surface, and inversion of the forest floor and mineral\ud soil in place.\ud Soil temperature was monitored continuously and soil moisture weekly at the\ud 10-cm depth in 16 combinations of site and microsite treatment during two\ud growing seasons. The response of seedling height and diameter growth was\ud monitored for three growing seasons. Effects of altering soil temperatures\ud through mechanical treatments on rates of nitrogen mineralization were examined\ud by incubating a standard soil material in a range of microsites created by six\ud combinations of site and mechanical treatment. Effects of substrate quality and\ud soil temperature on rates of nitrogen mineralization were examined in paired\ud mounded and untreated spots in fresh, moist, and wet sites.\ud In all sites, early growing season soil temperatures in the seedling rooting\ud zone were substantially warmer in inverted mounds than in other treatments.\ud Spot scalping increased temperatures slightly relative to controls in the fresh site,\ud but had little or no warming effect on moist and wet sites. Inverted mounds\ud became substantially drier than other treatments during periods of low rainfall,\ud particularly in the fresh site. After three growing seasons, seedling height growth\ud was greatest in inverted mounds, irrespective of site. Amounts of nitrogen\ud mineralized in a standard soil material during incubation for 77 days in the field\ud were significantly greater for samples placed in inverted mounds than for those\ud placed in other microsite treatments. There was a significant positive correlation\ud between amounts of nitrogen mineralized during field incubations and degree hour\ud sums calculated for associated microsite treatments and sites. Both substrate\ud quality and soil thermal regime affected rates of N mineralization in samples\ud from paired mounded and untreated spots, and an interaction was observed\ud between the two factors

Year: 1991
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