New Forests

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 49–66 | Cite as

The effects of mechanical site preparation and subsequent wildfire on trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) regeneration in central Alberta, Canada

  • Erin C. Fraser
  • Simon M. Landhäusser
  • Victor J. Lieffers


The objective of this study was to assess the regeneration response oftrembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) to differentmechanical site preparation (MSP) techniques commonly used in operationalforestry (disc trenching, drag scarifying and blading) and the specificmicrosites created by each treatment. This study was designed to measureregeneration after at least the first two growing seasons, however a largewildfire burned 80% of the study sites at the beginning of the second growingseason. Consequently, only limited second year data were presented, butregeneration from the first growing season following the fire was alsoassessed.Results indicated that microsites where the forest floor was disturbed and theparent root system was only lightly injured were more conducive to suckeringthan undisturbed microsites or where the root system was severely injured.Also,the fire disturbance after the first growing season resulted in increasedsuckering relative to the untreated controls in the first year. These resultssuggest that aspen sites with thick organic layers or vigorous competition fromother species can benefit from MSP when applied before the first growingseason.In addition, if first year suckering is inadequate, subsequent disturbancessuchas prescribed fire have the potential to improve suckering provided the parentroot system remains intact.

Boreal forest Forest floor disturbance Root suckers Silviculture Soil temperature 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alban D.H., Host G.E., Elioff J.D. and Shadis D. 1994. Soil and vegetation response to soil compaction and forest floor removal after aspen harvesting. USDA Forest Serv., North Central Forest and Range Exp. Sta., Grand Rapids, MN, Res. Pap. NC-315.Google Scholar
  2. Bartos D.L. and Mueggler W.F. 1981. Early succession in aspen communities following fire in western Wyoming. J. Range Manage. 34: 315–318.Google Scholar
  3. Bartos D.L. and Mueggler W.F. 1982. Early succession following clearcutting of aspen communities in northern Utah. J. Range Manage. 35: 764–768.Google Scholar
  4. Bates P.C., Blinn C.R. and Alm A.A. 1993. Harvesting impacts on quaking aspen regeneration in northern Minnesota. Can. J. For. Res. 23: 2403–2412.Google Scholar
  5. Beckingham J.D., Corns I.G.W. and Archibald J.H. 1996. Field guide to ecosites of west-central Alberta. Can. Forest Serv., Northern Forestry Cent., Edmonton, AB, Spec. Rep. 9.Google Scholar
  6. Bella I.E. 1986. Logging practices and subsequent development of aspen stands in east-central Saskatchewan. For. Chron. 62: 81–83.Google Scholar
  7. Bonan G.B. and Shugart H.H. 1989. Environmental factors and ecological processes in boreal forests. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 20: 1–28.Google Scholar
  8. Brown J.K. and Roussopoulos P.J. 1974. Eliminating biases in the planar intersect method for estimating volumes of small fuels. For. Sci. 20: 350–356.Google Scholar
  9. Brown J.K. and DeByle N.V. 1987. Fire damage, mortality and suckering in aspen. Can. J. For. Res. 17: 1100–1109.Google Scholar
  10. Crouch G.L. 1983. Aspen regeneration after commercial clearcutting in southwestern Colorado. J. For. 81: 316–319.Google Scholar
  11. Darrah D.W. 1991. Aspen harvesting: a government perspective. In: Navratil S. and Chapman P.B. (eds), Aspen management for the 21st century. Can. For. Serv., Northern Forestry Cent., Poplar Council of Canada, Edmonton, AB, pp. 61–66.Google Scholar
  12. Day M.W. 1944. The root system of aspen. Am. Midl. Nat. 32: 502–509.Google Scholar
  13. Day R.J. and Bell F.W. 1988. Development of crop plans for hardwood and conifer stands on boreal mixedwood sites. In: Samoil J.K. (ed.), Management and utilization of northern mixedwoods. Can. For. Serv., Northern Forestry Cent., Edmonton, AB Inf. Rep. NOR-X-296., pp. 87–98.Google Scholar
  14. DeByle N.V., Bevins C.D. and Fischer W.C. 1987. Wildfire occurrence in aspen in the interior western United States. West. J. Appl. For. 2: 73–76.Google Scholar
  15. DesRochers A. and Lieffers V.J. 2001. Root biomass of regenerating aspen (Populus tremuloides) stands of different densities in Alberta. Can. J. For. Res. 31: 1012–1018.Google Scholar
  16. DesRochers A., Landhäusser S.M. and Lieffers V.J. 2002. Coarse and fine root respiration in Populus tremuloides. Tree Phys. 22: 725–732.Google Scholar
  17. Farmer R.E. Jr 1962. Aspen root sucker formation and apical dominance. For. Sci. 8: 403–410.Google Scholar
  18. Fraser E.C., Lieffers V.J., Landhäusser S.M. and Frey B.R. 2002. Soil nutrition and temperature as drivers of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) root suckering. Can. J. For. Res. 32: 1685–1691.Google Scholar
  19. Frey B.R. 2001. Impacts of forest floor disturbance on vegetation and nutrient dynamics in partial cut and clearcut stands, MSc, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB 89 p.Google Scholar
  20. Gifford G.F. 1967. The influence of growth media, temperatures and light intensities on aspen root and top growth. USDA Forest Serv., Intermountain Forest and Range Exp. Sta., Ogden, UT, Res. Note INT-67.Google Scholar
  21. Horton K.W. and Maini J.S. 1964. Aspen reproduction: its characteristics and control. Can. Dep. Forestry and Rural Dev., Ottawa, ON, Forest Research Branch Rep. 64-0-12.Google Scholar
  22. Horton K.W. and Hopkins E.J. 1966. Influence of fire on aspen suckering. Can. Dep. Forestry and Rural Dev., Ottawa, ON, Forest Research Branch Pub. 1095.Google Scholar
  23. Hungerford R.D. 1988. Soil temperatures and suckering in burned and unburned aspen stands in Idaho. USDA For. Serv., Intermountain Forest and Range Exp. Sta., Ogden, UT, Res. Note INT-378.Google Scholar
  24. Kemperman J.A. 1978. Sucker-root relationships in aspen. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Maple, ON, Forest Research Note 12.Google Scholar
  25. Landhäusser S.M. and Lieffers V.J. 1998. Growth of Populus tremuloides in association with Calamagrostis canadensis. Can. J. For. Res. 28: 396–401.Google Scholar
  26. Landhäusser S.M. and Lieffers V.J. 2002. Leaf area renewal, root retention and carbohydrate reserves in a clonal tree species following aboveground disturbance. J. Ecol. (in press).Google Scholar
  27. Lavertu D., Mauffette Y. and Bergeron Y. 1994. Effects of stand age and litter removal on the regeneration of Populus tremuloides. J. Veg. Sci. 5: 561–568.Google Scholar
  28. Lieffers V.J., MacDonald S.E. and Hogg E.H. 1993. Ecology of and control strategies for Calamagrostis canadensis in boreal forest sites. Can. J. For. Sci. 23: 2070–2077.Google Scholar
  29. Lieffers V.J. and Beck J.A. Jr 1994. A semi-natural approach to mixedwood management in the prairie provinces. For. Chron. 70: 260–264.Google Scholar
  30. Lu E. and Sucoff E.I. 2001. Responses of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) seedlings to solution calcium. Can. J. For. Res. 31: 123–131.Google Scholar
  31. Maini J.S. and Horton K.W. 1966a. Reproductive response of Populus and associated Pteridium to cutting, burning and scarification. Can. Dep. Forestry and Rural Dev., Ottawa, ON, Forest Research Branch Pub. 1155.Google Scholar
  32. Maini J.S. and Horton K.W. 1966b. Vegetative Propagation of Populus spp. I. Influence of temperature on formation and initial growth of aspen suckers. Can. J. Bot. 44: 1183–1189.Google Scholar
  33. Navratil S., Brantner K. and Zasada J. 1991. Regeneration in the mixedwoods. In: Shortreid A. (ed.), Northern Mixedwood '89: Proceedings of a symposium held at Fort St. John, B.C. Sept. 12–14, 1989. Can. Forest Serv., Northern Forestry Cent., B.C. Ministry of Forests, Victoria, BC FRDA Rep. 164., pp. 32–48.Google Scholar
  34. Perala D.A. 1974. Prescribed burning in an aspen-mixed hardwood forest. Can. J. For. Res. 4: 222–228.Google Scholar
  35. Perala D.A. 1978. Aspen sucker production and growth from outplanted root cuttings. USDA For. Serv., North Central Forest and Range Exp. Sta., Grand Rapids, MN. Res. Note NC-241.Google Scholar
  36. Perala D.A. 1990. Quaking aspen. In: Burns R.M. and Honkala B.H. (eds), Silvics of North America. Hardwoods. USDA For. Serv., Washington D.C. Agric. Hbook 654., pp. 555–569.Google Scholar
  37. Peterson E.B. and Peterson N.M. 1992. Ecology, management, and use of aspen and balsam poplar in the Prairie Provinces. Can. Forest Serv., Northern Forestry Cent. Spec. Rep. 1.Google Scholar
  38. Rowe J.S. 1972. Forest regions of Canada. Dep. of Environment, Can. Forest Serv., Ottawa, ON, Pub. 1300.Google Scholar
  39. Schier G.A. and Zasada J.C. 1973. Role of carbohydrate reserves in the development of root suckers in Populus tremuloides. Can. J. For. Res. 3: 243–250.Google Scholar
  40. Schier G.A. and Campbell R.B. 1978. Aspen sucker regeneration following burning and clearcutting on two sites in the Rocky Mountains. For. Sci. 24: 303–308.Google Scholar
  41. Schier G.A. and Smith A.D. 1979. Sucker regeneration in a Utah clone after clearcutting, partial cutting, scarification and girdling. USDA For. Serv., Intermountain Forest and Range Exp. Sta., Ogden, UT, GTR INT-253.Google Scholar
  42. Shepperd W.D. 1996. Response of aspen root suckers to regeneration methods and post-harvest protection. USDA For. Serv., Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Exp. Sta., Fort Collins, CO, Res. Pap. RM-RP-324.Google Scholar
  43. Schmidt M.G., Macdonald S.E. and Rothwell R.L. 1996. Impacts of harvesting and mechanical site preparation on soil chemical properties of mixed-wood boreal forest sites in Alberta. Can. J. Soil Sci. 76: 531–540.Google Scholar
  44. Steneker G.A. 1974. Factors affecting the suckering of trembling aspen. For. Chron. 50: 32–34.Google Scholar
  45. Steneker G.A. 1976. Guide to the silvicultural management of trembling aspen in the prairie provinces. Can. Forest Serv., Northern Forestry Cent., Edmonton, AB, Inf. Rep. NOR-X-164.Google Scholar
  46. Steneker G.A. and Walters M.A. 1971. The effect of root length upon the suckering of trembling aspen. Can. Forest Serv., Northern Forestry Cent., Dep. Fish. and Forestry, Edmonton, AB, Inf. Rep. A-X-46.Google Scholar
  47. Strong W.L. and LaRoi G.H. 1983. Root-system morphology of common boreal forest trees in Alberta, Canada. Can. J. For. Res. 13: 1164–1173.Google Scholar
  48. Tew R.K. 1970. Root carbohydrate reserves in vegetative reproduction of aspen. For. Sci. 16: 318–320.Google Scholar
  49. Vitousek P.M., Andariese S.W., Matson P.A., Morris L. and Sanford R.L. 1992. Effects of harvest intensity, site preparation, and herbicide use on soil nitrogen transformations in a young loblolly pine plantation. For. Ecol. Manage. 49: 277–292.Google Scholar
  50. Weingartner D.H. 1980. The effects of scarification on trembling aspen in northern Ontario: a preliminary report. For. Chron. 56: 173–175.Google Scholar
  51. Zehngraff P.J. 1946. How to improve aspen stocking following summer logging. USDA For. Serv., Lake States Forest Exp. Sta., St. Paul, MN.Google Scholar
  52. Zillgitt W.M. 1951. Disking to increase stocking in aspen stands. USDA For. Serv., Lake States Forest Exp. Sta., St. Paul, MN, Tech Note 357.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin C. Fraser
    • 1
  • Simon M. Landhäusser
    • 1
  • Victor J. Lieffers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of Alberta, Centre for Enhanced Forest ManagementEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations