Short‐term selective thinning effects on hydraulic functionality of a temperate pine forest in eastern Canada
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Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Forest plantations are commonly used to restore the ecological and hydrological functionality of landscapes. In this study, we investigated the hydrological response of a 74-year-old pine plantation forest in southern Ontario, Canada to a selective thinning, wherein 30% of trees were harvested in winter of 2012. Tree-level and ecosystem-level water fluxes were monitored from 2011 to 2013 using sapflow and eddy-covariance techniques, and were compared with an adjacent 39-year-old pine plantation forest that was not thinned. In the 74-year-old forest, transpiration declined after thinning in the 2012 growing season, while tree-level water transport increased despite a severe drought. Time lag between sapflow and ecosystem evapotranspiration showed that the older stand had a significantly shorter time lag when compared to the younger stand, particularly in the thinning year. Linear regression modeling indicated that this was likely due to higher soil moisture status in the older stand versus the younger forest. Hydraulic redistribution of soil water was apparent during drought periods in both forests and did not appear to be negatively affected by the thinning treatment in the older forest. We conclude that selective low density thinning did not negatively impact the forest's response to seasonal drought, and that the availability of more soil moisture as a result of thinning may improve the resilience of the forest to future climatic extreme events such as drought.
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