iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Effects of artificial defoliation and simulated insect damage on the growth of Betula pendula saplings

Iveta Varnagiryte-Kabašinskiene   , Valda Araminiene, Vidas Stakenas

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 95-100 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1522-008
Published: Jul 15, 2015 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

One-year-old silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) saplings were subjected to artificial insect damage and defoliations of varying intensities, and subsequent growth indexes, biomass allocation patterns and photosynthesis were monitored during a 60-day period. Seven treatments were conducted in which the leaves of saplings were perforated with three or six holes per each leaf, and damaged by clipping one-third of each leaf, or they received 25, 50 and 75% defoliations during a single growing season (from April to August of 2014). Simulated insect damage and artificial defoliation decreased growth. The 75% defoliation significantly reduced the total dry mass of birch saplings at harvest by 30%, while such reduction did not influence the total productivity. The dry mass of leaves was reduced by 45% when saplings were defoliated by 75% compared to not defoliated saplings. Moreover, the total production of leaves significantly increased in the 75% defoliated saplings compared with control saplings. Artificial defoliation increased the relative biomass allocation to foliage, and this was more evident in defoliated than in mechanically insect-damaged saplings. Despite losing 25, 50 or 75% of leaf mass due to clipping, defoliated birch saplings recovered similar dry masses and root/shoot ratios by harvest as the non-defoliated saplings. Perforation and clipping parts of the leaves, as well as the artificial defoliations, caused the regrowth of biomass that did not significantly change compared to healthy silver birch saplings, and this phenomenon could be assessed as equal-compensatory growth.


Betula pendula, Artificial Defoliation, Artificial Insect-Damage, Growth Compensation

Authors’ address

Iveta Varnagiryte-Kabašinskiene
Valda Araminiene
Vidas Stakenas
Institute of Forestry, Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, Liepu str. 1, Girionys, LT-53101, Kaunas district (Lithuania)

Corresponding author

Iveta Varnagiryte-Kabašinskiene


Varnagiryte-Kabašinskiene I, Araminiene V, Stakenas V (2015). Effects of artificial defoliation and simulated insect damage on the growth of Betula pendula saplings. iForest 9: 95-100. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1522-008

Academic Editor

Massimo Faccoli

Paper history

Received: Dec 04, 2014
Accepted: Mar 10, 2015

First online: Jul 15, 2015
Publication Date: Feb 21, 2016
Publication Time: 4.23 months

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