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Tree Physiol. 2003 Aug;23(12):833-40.

Stem sapwood permeability in relation to crown dominance and site quality in self-thinning fire-origin lodgepole pine stands.

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  • 1Centre for Enhanced Forest Management, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H1, Canada.


Stem sapwood hydraulic permeability, tree leaf area, sapwood basal area, earlywood to latewood ratio of annual rings, radial variation in hydraulic permeability and stem hydraulic capacity were examined in dominant (D), codominant (CD) and suppressed (SP) lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.) trees growing on medium and poor sites. Hydraulic permeability on a sapwood area basis (ks) was lower in suppressed trees (0.71 x 10(-12) m2) compared to dominants (1.97 x 10(-12) m2) and codominants (1.79 x 10(-12) m2), and higher on medium than on poor sites. The leaf/sapwood area ratio (S) varied with crown dominance position (D > CD > SP) but not by site type. Leaf specific conductivity (kL) did not vary between crown classes or site types. The relationship between leaf area and stem hydraulic supply capacity (Q*) was strong, but differed among crown classes. Dominant trees and trees from the medium sites had a greater proportion of earlywood in outer rings of sapwood than suppressed trees. Sapwood permeability declined from the cambium to the sapwood-heartwood boundary in all samples, but the decline was more gradual in dominant trees compared to codominant and suppressed trees; differences in the radial variation in sapwood permeability may be related to differences in S. Sapwood permeability is positively related to crown dominance, whereas subdominant (CD and SP) trees have greater Q* in relation to leaf area, leading us to propose that this may give subdominant trees a survival advantage, slowing self-thinning.

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