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Grover B.E.,Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc. | Bokalo M.,University of Alberta | Greenway K.J.,Alberta Research Council | Greenway K.J.,Environment Canada
Forestry Chronicle

A large component of the boreal mixedwood forest is comprised of aspen and white spruce mixtures of varying proportions and ages. The slower growing white spruce usually starts as an understory component but will succeed to a white sprucedominated stand after aspen break-up. Since both species are utilized by the forest industry, one method of maximizing total yield is to protect the unmerchantable white spruce understory while harvesting the merchantable aspen overstory. Although some of the white spruce understory is lost when the machine corridors are harvested, future conifer yield is augmented by the accelerated growth of the protected spruce component, a result of increased light levels. In a 10 year trial comparing the growth of released versus control understory spruce, annual height growth, diameter growth and volume increment were 76%, 152% and 83% higher, respectively, for the released conifer compared to the control. In order to account for the yield implications in timber supply analysis, accurate forecasts of future stand development can only be obtained through the use of a forest growth model since long-term data are not available. The Mixedwood Growth Model (MGM) has a unique architecture that allows for the modeling of various strata in understory protection stands. This "multi-strata" modeling approach was used to forecast the combined yield of all the strata, including the impact of adjacent strata with regards to light availability. Operational examples of understory protection, data on white spruce release and aspen regeneration, as well as modeled volume forecasts are presented. Source

Hamanishi E.T.,University of Toronto | Thomas B.R.,Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc. | Thomas B.R.,University of Alberta | Campbell M.M.,University of Toronto
Journal of Experimental Botany

Much is known about the physiological control of stomatal aperture as a means by which plants adjust to water availability. By contrast, the role played by the modulation of stomatal development to limit water loss has received much less attention. The control of stomatal development in response to water deprivation in the genus Populus is explored here. Drought induced declines in stomatal conductance as well as an alteration in stomatal development in two genotypes of Populus balsamifera. Leaves that developed under water-deficit conditions had lower stomatal indices than leaves that developed under well-watered conditions. Transcript abundance of genes that could hypothetically underpin drought-responsive changes in stomatal development was examined, in two genotypes, across six time points, under two conditions, well-watered and with water deficit. Populus homologues of STOMAGEN, ERECTA (ER), STOMATA DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION 1 (SDD1), and FAMA had variable transcript abundance patterns congruent with their role in the modulation of stomatal development in response to drought. Conversely, there was no significant variation in transcript abundance between genotypes or treatments for the Populus homologues of YODA (YDA) and TOO MANY MOUTHS (TMM). The findings highlight the role that could be played by stomatal development during leaf expansion as a longer term means by which to limit water loss from leaves. Moreover, the results point to the key roles played by the regulation of the homologues of STOMAGEN, ER, SDD1, and FAMA in the control of this response in poplar. © 2012 The Author. Source

Hart J.F.,University of British Columbia | de Araujo F.,University of British Columbia | Thomas B.R.,University of Alberta | Thomas B.R.,Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc. | Mansfield S.D.,University of British Columbia

Trembling awspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) is one of the most abundant poplar species in North America; it is native, displays substantial breadth in distribution inhabiting several geographical and climatic ecoregions, is notable for its rapid growth, and is ecologically and economically important. As the demand for raw material continues to increase rapidly, there is a pressing need to improve both tree quality and growth rates via breeding efforts. Hybridization is considered one of the most promising options to simultaneously accelerate these tree characteristics, as it takes advantage of heterosis. Two aspen species showing particular promise for hybridization with trembling aspen are European aspen (P. tremula) and Chinese aspen (P. davidiana) because their native climates are similar to that of P. tremuloides and are also very easy to hybridize. In 2003, aspen clones were planted in Athabasca, Alberta from the following species crosses: open pollinated (OP) P. tremuloides (NN), OP P. davidiana (CC), P. tremula × P. tremula (EE), P. tremula × P. tremuloides (EN), and P. tremuloides × P. davidiana (CN). In November 2010, growth measurements and core samples were taken from seven-year field grown clones. Comparisons of the mean growth and cell wall traits were made between crosses using generalized linear model least squares means tests for stem volume, fiber length, fiber width, coarseness, wood density, microfibril angle, total cell wall carbohydrate and lignin content, and lignin composition. The results clearly indicated that the inter-specific crosses offer a means to breed for more desirable wood characteristics than the intra-specific Populus spp. crosses. © 2013 by the authors. © 2013 by the authors. Source

Hamanishi E.T.,University of Toronto | Raj S.H.,University of Toronto | Wilkins O.,University of Toronto | Thomas B.R.,Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc. | And 4 more authors.
Plant, Cell and Environment

Drought is a major limitation to the growth and productivity of trees in the ecologically and economically important genus Populus. The ability of Populus trees to contend with drought is a function of genome responsiveness to this environmental insult, involving reconfiguration of the transcriptome to appropriately remodel growth, development and metabolism. Here we test hypotheses aimed at examining the extent of intraspecific variation in the drought transcriptome using six different Populus balsamifera L. genotypes and Affymetrix GeneChip technology. Within a given genotype there was a positive correlation between the magnitude of water-deficit induced changes in transcript abundance across the transcriptome, and the capacity of that genotype to maintain growth following water deficit. Genotypes that had more similar drought-responsive transcriptomes also had fewer genotypic differences, as determined by microarray-derived single feature polymorphism (SFP) analysis, suggesting that responses may be conserved across individuals that share a greater degree of genotypic similarity. This work highlights the fact that a core species-level response can be defined; however, the underpinning genotype-derived complexities of the drought response in Populus must be taken into consideration when defining both species- and genus-level responses. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Rousi M.,Finnish Forest Research Institute | Possen B.J.H.M.,Finnish Forest Research Institute | Hagqvist R.,Finnish Forest Research Institute | Thomas B.R.,Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
Silva Fennica

Earlier provenance research has indicated poor success even in short distance transfers (> 2-3° latitude) of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) southward from their origin. These results may indicate poor adaptability of silver birch to a warming climate. Some of the scenarios for a warming climate in Finland suggest effective heat sums are likely to double in the north and increase 1.5 fold in the south for the period of 2070-2099. Consequently, the outlook for silver birch appears bleak. To study the acclimation of birch to this projected change we established a provenance trial in northeastern Alberta, Canada, at the temperature area currently predicted for Central Finland (lat. 64-66°N) at the turn of this century (1400 dd). Our 10-year experiment showed that all the Finnish provenances (origins 61-67°N) have acclimated well to the warmer growth conditions experienced in Alberta at 54°N. These results suggest that silver birch has the potential to acclimate to thermal conditions predicted for Finland at the end of the 21st century. Our results also indicate that silver birch has the potential as a plantation species in Canada, where the Finnish birch grew faster in the boreal forest region of Canada than local paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) provenances. Source

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