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Silver birch aboveground biomass allocation pattern, stem and foliage traits with regard to intraspecific crown competition


In the conditions of Central Europe, silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) has so far not been an important species for commercial purposes but might be relevant from ecological point of view. For instance, prompt succession by birch and other pioneer tree species at large-scale post-disturbance areas is necessary to compensate for previous carbon losses by natural disasters. Therefore, our attention was focused on 14-year-old birch trees growing at the wind-thrown area in the High Tatra Mts. (northern Slovakia). We sampled aboveground biomass of 20 silver birch trees representing four classes of crown competition: 0 – competition free crowns, 1 – crowns under mild competition, 2 – crowns under moderate competition, 3 – crowns under severe competition. We studied biomass allocated to stems, branches and foliage, and basic properties of stems and foliage. The crown-competition free birches were nearly 13 m high, and their aboveground tree biomass was 150 kg. The biomass of birches under severe competition was five times lower. Crown competition modified biomass ratios of foliage to branch as well as of branch to stem. Our results showed that birches under severe competition stress invest more in height than in diameter. At the same time, crown competition modified foliage weight and specific leaf area (SLA), which was clear mostly in the upper part of the crowns. However, foliage area was influenced by crown competition only to a negligible extent. Our main finding is that foliage position (upper, middle or lower third of crown) affected foliage properties more than intraspecific crown competition. Finally, we pointed out that silver birch is a rather productive species that is not ecologically demanding. Therefore, it might be a prospective tree species under the ongoing climate change and the present period of intensification in renewable resources utilisation.

Częstotliwość wydawania:
4 razy w roku
Dziedziny czasopisma:
Life Sciences, Plant Science, Ecology, other