We evaluated the extent to which general or site-specific allometric equations, using diameter at breast height (DBH) as a predictor, are more accurate for estimating stem volume, stem biomass, branch biomass, aboveground woody biomass, and coarse root biomass in 14 year-old plantations of Populus canadensis
× Populus maximowiczii
(clone DN × M-915508) located along an environmental gradient in southern Québec (eastern Canada). The effect of tree size and site on stem wood basic density, moisture content, and proportion of branch biomass was also evaluated. For stem volume, stem biomass, and aboveground biomass, site-specific and general models had comparable fit and accuracy, but lower Akaike’s Information Criterion (AICc) values were observed for the general models. For the branch and coarse root biomass, higher fit and accuracy and lower AICc values were observed for the site-specific models. Allometric trajectory changes (plastic allometry) across sites were mainly observed for coarse root biomass, branch biomass, and stem volume. On the low fertility site, allocation was increased to coarse roots and decreased to stem volume. Site-specific tradeoffs between tree architecture and stem wood density explained the relatively invariant allometry for the whole aboveground woody biomass across the plantation sites. On the high fertility sites, basic wood density was the lowest and declined as tree DBH increased. At all sites, stem wood moisture content and the proportion of branch biomass increased with DBH. Overall, this study showed that biomass allometry, tree architecture, and biomass quality are a function of both tree size and plantation environment in hybrid poplar. Allometric model selection (site-specific or general) should depend on the objective pursued (evaluation of yield, nutrient budget, carbon stocks).
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