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Missing growth rings at the trunk base in suppressed balsam fir saplings

By S. Parent, H. Morin and C. Messier

Abstract

Numerous researchers have suggested a causal relationship between low leaf biomass in suppressed trees and the lack of radial growth at the base of the trunk. The objective of this study was to verify this relationship with suppressed balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) saplings found growing in an old-growth fir stand. A total of 29 saplings varying in height from 67 to 183 cm were uprooted. All saplings had adventitious roots. All terminal bud scars (TBS) found between the apex of the terminal leader and the trunk base (first adventitious root) as well as those found below ground were localized, and rings were counted between TBS along the aboveground trunk. Various morphological traits and the ratio of photosynthetic tissue dry mass (P, needles) to non-photosynthetic tissue dry mass (nP, above-ground stem) were used as an indicator of tree vigour. Between 3 and 33 rings counted along the aboveground trunk were missing at the trunk base. The number of missing rings at the base of the trunk was correlated with total height (r = 0.41), height growth (r = -0.51), radial growth (r = -0.44), the P/nP ratio (r = -0.73), and the proportion of live crown (r = -0.62). Moreover, from 2 to 35 additional rings, missing at the trunk base, were found in the belowground section of trunk and these missing rings were associated with the adventitious roots phenomenon. In conclusion, suppressed firs had missing rings at the base of the trunk. When all of the missing rings were added to the number of rings counted at the base of the trunk, age estimates provided a different temporal pattern of recruitment compared with that obtained by solely counting rings at the base of the trunk. Stem analysis on the entire trunk is the best aging method for suppressed balsam fir saplings

Topics: missing growth rings, suppressed balsam fir, old-growth, trunk base
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1139/X02-102
OAI identifier: oai:www.archipel.uqam.ca:1568

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