EFFECTS OF PLANT COMPENSATION ACROSS SITES ON REGRESSION ESTIMATES OF SHOOT BIOMASS AND LENGTH

Roy V Rea, Michael P Gillingham

Abstract


Regression estimates for determining browse shoot biomass from bite diameters and shoot basal diameters are commonly used to estimate biomass consumption and the impacts that herbivores have on range resources. Such estimates tend to be based on equations built from data taken across the continuum of shoot morphometries present on plants within a given study area. How these morphometric relationships differ between the shoots of undamaged and damaged (e.g., following browsing, shoot breakage, or brush-cutting) plants is unclear. To assess the effects of plant compensation and the importance of site on shoot morphometrics for Scouler's Willow (Salix scouleriana), we clipped and measured current annual shoots at 5 sites in central British Columbia. Each site had been previously brush-cut and current annual shoots were collected from both brush-cut and control willows. For each treatment and site, we developed separate regressions to predict shoot weight from length, weight from basal diameter, and length from basal diameter. Comparisons of individual regressions indicated that different regressions, or even different forms of regressions (i.e., power function versus linear), are needed to accurately predict shoot weight and length depending on whether or not plants are producing compensatory or non-compensatory shoots. For some willows in the same treatment category (brush-cut versus uncut), the appropriate regressions differed among some sites. These results suggest that the effects of plant compensation following mechanical damage have important implications to the extrapolation and interpretation of shoot morphometric relationships, and thus, biomass estimates across different study areas.

Keywords


Biomass estimation; browse; compensatory growth; mechanical brushing; plant response; regression analysis; Salix scouleriana

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