Non-additive effects of mixing hybrid poplar and white spruce on aboveground and soil carbon storage in boreal plantations

M. Chomel*, A. DesRochers, V. Baldy, M. Larcheveque, T. Gauquelin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The use of trees under intensive management is particularly important for rapid fiber production in boreal regions. Mixed-species plantations using species that have complementary ecological niches, such as hybrid poplar and white spruce, potentially can maximize the use of resources and, consequently, increase productivity. In the context of climate change, vegetation and soil carbon sequestration is of a particular interest as part of a possible means of compensating for CO2 emissions. Since higher productivity leads to higher CO2 sequestration, the use of mixed-species plantations could improve the ecological service of carbon storage compared to mono-specific plantations. We compared above-ground and soil C storage of nine-year-old mono-specific plantations of white spruce and hybrid poplar with mixed plantations of these two species. Soil carbon was evaluated by separately sampling four soil horizons, while aboveground carbon was assessed from tree biomass estimates using allometric relationships. Mixing white spruce and hybrid poplar exerted a substantial synergistic effect on above-ground and soil carbon storage. This positive effect was due to greater productivity of poplar (47% of biomass increase) and great accumulation of litter in soil surface horizons (52% L-horizon carbon increase) of mixed-species compared to mono-specific plantations. These results imply that in addition to wood production gains by poplar trees, mixed-species plantations of hybrid poplar and white spruce promotes greater carbon sequestration than mono-specific plantations of either hybrid poplar or white spruce, an important aspect of forest ecosystem services. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-299
Number of pages8
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2014

Bibliographical note

We thank Line Blackburn for field assistance and tree measurements, and W.F.J. Parsons of the CEF for English language correction, and for his comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC-CRSNG) through a Collaborative and Research Development grant awarded to AD. We also thank the CRSNG-UQAT-UQAM Industrial Chair in Sustainable Forest Management, the Quebec Intensive Silviculture Network and the Centre for Forest Research (CFR) for additional support.


  • Boreal forest
  • Carbon storage
  • Mixed-species plantations
  • Productivity
  • Soil horizon
  • Synergistic effect
  • Black Spruce
  • Tropical forest
  • Ecosystem function
  • Mixed Plantations
  • Organic-matter
  • Leaf-litter
  • Stands
  • Aspen
  • Growth


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