New Forests

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 89–103 | Cite as

Predicting the productivity of a young hybrid poplar clone under intensive plantation management in northern Alberta, Canada using soil and site characteristics

  • Bradley D. Pinno
  • Barb R. Thomas
  • Nicolas Bélanger


Site productivity of the hybrid poplar clone Brooks6 was predicted using soil and site information from 6, 4-year-old plantations in north-east Alberta. Predictions were made at both the local and microsite scales. Percent sand (R 2 = 0.352, P = 0.001) was the best single predictor of hybrid poplar productivity, showing a curved relationship. Soil pH also showed a curved but weaker relationship with hybrid poplar productivity (R 2 = 0.133, P = 0.100). Maximum tree productivity occurred at sand contents between 55 and 70% and pH values near 6. Other variables, including foliar nutrient concentrations, foliar δ13C, electrical conductivity, depth of the A horizon and total chemistry of the soil, were also related to hybrid poplar productivity at the local and microsite scales. However, all of these variables were correlated to either soil texture (percent sand) or pH. At the microsite scale within plantations, percent sand was the most important predictor of tree productivity and explained more than 50% of the variability within plantations, although the relationship varied by plantation. In plantations with fine textures, sandier microsites were associated with increased growth while in sandy plantations, finer textured microsites were more productive. As a whole, the growth of the hybrid poplar clone Brooks6 appears to be mostly influenced by a combination of soil water and nutrient availability, the former being impacted by soil texture and the latter being governed by soil pH.


Brooks6 Afforestation Soil water availability Soil nutrient availability Foliar nutrients Tree productivity Hybrid poplar Plantation 



We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. A special thanks to M. Emigh for his valuable help in the field and laboratory. We also thank J. Ramsum from Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac) for providing site histories and helping us access the plantations and G. Keating of the McGill University Center for Trace Element Analysis Laboratory for conducting XRF analyses on our soil samples. This study was made possible by financial support from the Saskatchewan Forest Centre (now ForestFirst), Al-Pac and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bradley D. Pinno
    • 1
  • Barb R. Thomas
    • 2
  • Nicolas Bélanger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  2. 2.Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.BoyleCanada
  3. 3.UER Sciences et technologies, TéluqUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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