Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2016Peer reviewed

Root connections affect radial growth of balsam poplar trees

Adonsou, Kokouvi Emmanuel; Drobyshev, Igor; DesRochers, Annie; Tremblay, Francine; Drobyshev, Igor


Connected root systems reduced the negative impact of August temperatures and insect outbreak on growth.Root connections between trees can be an ecological advantage of clonal plant species in environments with unevenly distributed resources. We investigated the effects of root connectivity in stands of balsam poplar in Quebec (Canada). We evaluated differences in growth response between groups of trees with and without root connections through climate-growth analyses, comparison of the growth dynamics, and analysis of growth response to a severe forest tent caterpillar (FTC) outbreak. Current May temperature had a positive influence on radial growth of both connected and non-connected trees. Growth of non-connected trees was negatively affected by August temperatures (r = -0.3) while connected trees did not reveal a significant relationship for that month. A mixed effect ANOVA showed a significant difference (F (1, 25) = 5.59, p = 0.02) in growth responses to FTC outbreak between connected and non-connected trees. Connected trees grew on average 16 % better than unconnected trees during the outbreak, with bootstrapped 95 % confidence range from 2.28 to 31.36 %. The study suggests a sharing of resources through root connections, affecting radial growth of connected balsam poplar trees under both average and extreme environmental conditions.


Populus balsamifera; Malacosoma disstria; Root grafting; Insect outbreak; Resource sharing; Tree nutrition; Biotic interactions; Facilitation in plant communities; Forest resilience

Published in

Trees - Structure and Function
2016, Volume: 30, number: 5, pages: 1775-1783

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Plant Protection Network

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 Zero hunger
    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)