Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 208–208 | Cite as

The successional status of sugar maple (Acer saccharum), revisited

  • Philippe Nolet
  • Sylvain Delagrange
  • Daniel Bouffard
  • Frédérik Doyon
  • Eric Forget
Original Article


Two complementary experimental designs at two contrasting scales (landscape/long term; individual tree/short term) were used for an in-depth evaluation of the successional status of sugar maple (AS: Acer saccharum Marsh.). First, forest disturbances during the 20th century and composition were mapped for two landscapes in the Du Lièvre watershed of southern Quebec. Our results show that, as well as dominating stands in the absence of fire, AS often rapidly developed dominance after fire, especially in the south of our study area. Similarly, a majority of AS-dominated stands clearcut in 1928 continued to be AS-dominated 60 years later. Second, we examined AS seedlings planted under two very contrasting light regimes. AS seedlings showed a combination of traits particularly adapted to tolerate shade under a low light regime. However, owing to a surprisingly high phenotypic plasticity, AS also exhibited efficient development under high light. This suggests the classification of AS as a late-successional species should indeed be revised and that generalist or trans-successional would be a more appropriate designation for this species. We discuss the ramifications of such a status revision, with an emphasis on the implications for its silviculture.

landscape phenotypic plasticity scale of organization succession sugar maple 

Révision du statut successionnel de l’érable à sucre (Acer saccharum)


Deux dispositifs expérimentaux complémentaires, établis à deux échelles différentes (paysage/long terme et individu/court terme), ont été utilisés afin de mieux évaluer le statut successionnel de l’érable à sucre (AS : Acer saccharum Marsh.). D’abord, une cartographie des perturbations et de la composition forestière au cours du 20e siècle a été réalisée pour deux paysages du bassin du Lièvre dans le Sud du Québec. Nos résultats ont démontré qu’en plus de dominer les peuplements en absence de perturbation du couvert, AS établissait souvent et rapidement une dominance dans les peuplements ayant brûlé, et cela, particulièrement dans le paysage le plus au sud de l’air d’étude. De la même façon, une majorité de peuplements dominés par AS et coupés à blanc en 1928 s’est révélée encore dominée par AS à peine 60 ans après coupe. Ensuite, en réalisant le suivi de semis plantés sous deux régimes lumineux très différents, AS a montré un ensemble de caractéristiques particulièrement adaptées à une bonne tolérance à l’ombre. Cependant, grâce à une étonnante plasticité phénotypique, AS a aussi démontré un développement compétitif sous des régimes lumineux plus élevés. L’ensemble de ces résultats suggère donc une remise en question du statut de fin de succession de AS, lequel répondrait mieux à une appellation d’espèce généraliste ou trans-successionnelle. Les implications d’une telle révision sur la sylviculture de cette essence sont discutées.

paysage plasticité phénotypique échelle d’organisation succession érable à sucre 


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Copyright information

© Springer S+B Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Nolet
    • 1
  • Sylvain Delagrange
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Bouffard
    • 1
  • Frédérik Doyon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric Forget
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut Québécois d’Aménagement de la Forêt Feuillue (IQAFF)RiponCanada
  2. 2.Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)GatineauCanada

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