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Forests 2017, 8(11), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8110413

Low Light Availability Associated with American Beech Is the Main Factor for Reduced Sugar Maple Seedling Survival and Growth Rates in a Hardwood Forest of Southern Quebec

1
Centre d’étude de la Forêt, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
2
Institut des Sciences de la Forêt Tempérée, Université du Québec en Outaouais, 58 rue Principale, Ripon, QC J0V 1V0, Canada
3
Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
4
Département Science et Technologie, Université TÉLUQ, Université du Québec, 5800 rue Saint-Denis, Bureau 1105, Montréal, QC H2S 3L5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 September 2017 / Revised: 27 October 2017 / Accepted: 29 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
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Abstract

Several recent studies have reported a marked increase in American beech dominance (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) relative to sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) in late successional forests of North America. However, many factors have been proposed to explain this sudden shift in tree species composition. We investigated the microsite factors responsible for maple regeneration failure under maple-beech stands, focusing on both light availability and soil conditions. The survival and growth of maple seedlings planted in the natural soil and in pots with enriched soil were monitored for two years, as well as foliar nutrition and herbivory damages of natural seedlings. The results indicate that low light availability associated with the presence of beech is the primary factor leading to maple regeneration failures. Soil nutrient availability and foliar nutrition of natural seedlings did not differ between forest types. Yet, the results indicate that factors such as allelopathy and preferential herbivory on maple seedlings under beech could be superimposed effects that hinder maple regeneration. Under similar forests, a control of beech sapling abundance in the understory followed by selection cutting could be one way to promote and maintain maple populations in the longer term. View Full-Text
Keywords: sugar maple; natural and planted seedlings; survival; growth; light availability; soil nutrients; phenols; herbivory; foliar nutrition sugar maple; natural and planted seedlings; survival; growth; light availability; soil nutrients; phenols; herbivory; foliar nutrition
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Collin, A.; Messier, C.; Kembel, S.W.; Bélanger, N. Low Light Availability Associated with American Beech Is the Main Factor for Reduced Sugar Maple Seedling Survival and Growth Rates in a Hardwood Forest of Southern Quebec. Forests 2017, 8, 413.

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