Beech regeneration of seed and root sucker origin: A comparison of morphology, growth, survival, and response to defoliation

Beaudet, Marilou et Messier, Christian (2008). « Beech regeneration of seed and root sucker origin: A comparison of morphology, growth, survival, and response to defoliation ». Forest Ecology and Management, 255, pp. 3659-3666.

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American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) reproduces sexually, and vegetatively by root suckers. Although many studies have investigated its regeneration response, most did not account for differences that may exist between its two modes of reproduction. This study was performed in an old-growth Acer - Fagus forest in southern Quebec, where beech bark disease had only a minor effect at the time of the study. We compared the density and frequency of occurrence of beech seedlings and root suckers (height < 30 cm), as well as their morphology, growth, survival, and response to experimental defoliation. Root suckers accounted for ∼13% of beech regeneration at our site. Density and frequency of occurrence were greater for seedlings than suckers, but did not vary with light availability, which was low at our study site (mean: 2.9%). Seedlings and suckers did not differ in leaf characteristics, but several differences were observed in terms of plant morphology, growth, and survival. Root suckers showed more lateral growth than height growth, and had a lower leaf area index than seedlings. Root suckers had both a greater growth in height and diameter, and a higher survivorship than seedlings (height and diameter growth were, respectively, five and two times greater for suckers than seedlings, and 74% of suckers survived more than 1 year, compared to 52% for seedlings). Defoliation treatments, which included levels of defoliation of 50% and 100% (1) did not affect current-year extension growth of seedlings and suckers; (2) did not affect seedling diameter growth, but had a negative impact on sucker diameter growth; and (3) affected survivorship for both origins, but had a much greater negative impact on seedling survivorship (none of the completely defoliated seedlings survived over one year, while 55% of the suckers did). This study showed that several differences exist between small beech seedlings and root suckers in traits that are important determinants of a species' competitive ability. We therefore expect that variation in the relative importance of root suckering among sites might have several community-level implications.

Type: Article de revue scientifique
Mots-clés ou Sujets: Fagus grandifolia, root sprouts, vegetative reproduction, leaf removal, leaf display
Unité d'appartenance: Faculté des sciences > Département des sciences biologiques
Déposé par: Christian Messier
Date de dépôt: 24 nov. 2008
Dernière modification: 01 nov. 2014 02:06
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