Black spruce seedling growth response in controlled organic and organic-mineral substrates.
Mohammed Henneb, Osvaldo Valeria, Nelson Thiffault, Nicole J. Fenton.
In the boreal forest of eastern Canada, a large proportion of black spruce (Picea mariana [Mill.] Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.) stands are affected by paludification. Edaphic conditions that are created by paludification processes, including an abundance of microsites with high moisture and low nutrient contents, hinder forest regeneration. Disturbance of paludified sites by mechanical soil preparation (MSP) reduces organic layer thickness, while generating a range of substrates for regeneration establishment. Yet, little information is available regarding the effects of these substrates on tree growth. Our objective was to determine the effect of organic, mineral and organo-mineral substrates that are created following MSP of a paludified site on the growth and root development of black spruce seedlings in a semi-controlled environment. We demonstrated that substrate exerted a significant effect on seedling growth and foliar concentrations of N, P and K. Increase in height and diameter were respectively greatest on clay (mineral) and mesic substrates. Substrate effects did not affect total biomass increases or final root biomass. Foliar nutrients (N, P, K) were relatively high in seedlings that were established on mesic substrates and relatively low for those established on clay substrates. To ensure successful seedling establishment, we recommend the application of MSP techniques that expose organic-mesic substrates on sites that are susceptible to paludification.