Early response of Abies balsamea seedlings to artificially created openings.
Daniel Kneeshaw, Yves Bergeron, Louis De Grandpré.
Small-scale canopy openings are being increasingly recognized for their importance in boreal forest stand development. Yet more work is necessary to understand their effects on seedling growth. This study investigated the effect of different degrees of canopy opening (all trees cut, conifers cut, conifers girdled and control quadrats) in different stand types on Abies balsamea seedling recruitment, growth and architecture. The lack of a treatment effect on seedling establishment suggests that gaps primarily affect advance regeneration. In the first year after treatment the seedlings in the cut blocks (both conifer cut and all trees cut) responded with an increase in height growth. Changes in the leader to lateral branch ratio were also significant. Continued architectural change in terms of number of branches produced did not occur until after two years had passed. Although not significantly different from the control, increases can be observed in all measurements for the girdled treatment. It is therefore concluded that the growth response of advance regeneration is more important following canopy opening than new seedling recruitment and that seedling performance is greatest where degree of opening is greatest.