Influence of recent fire season and severity on black spruce regeneration in spruce–moss forests of Quebec, Canada

Authors: Veilleux-Nolin, Mélanie1; Payette, Serge2

Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Volume 42, Number 7, July 2012 , pp. 1316-1327(12)

Publisher: NRC Research Press

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Abstract:

Postfire regeneration problems compromise the maintenance of closed-crown forests of eastern Canada, often shifting toward lichen woodlands. Compounded disturbances like successive fires or insect outbreaks followed by fire may be responsible for this shift. Leaving behind unfavourable seedbeds for the germination of black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) seeds, low-severity fires may also be involved in this transformation. The severity of recent fires and their impact on black spruce regeneration were evaluated using 13 stands burned in spring or summer within the closed-crown forest in Quebec during the last 20 years. Two ecological indicators were used to characterize fire severity: thickness of residual organic material and recovery of plant species. Regardless of the season, the ground of all burned stands was covered with a thick layer of residual organic matter. Blackened organic matter and ericaceous vegetation, indicating the passage of a low-severity fire, were widespread in all sites whereas acrocarpous mosses and bare mineral soil, indicating the passage of a severe fire, were uncommon. The preponderance of the thick layer of residual organic material blackened at the surface can explain the failure of regeneration in most studied sites. Low-severity fires are thus among factors probably involved in the expansion of lichen woodlands within the closed-crown forest.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x2012-098

Affiliations: 1: Bureau des changements climatiques, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs du Québec, 675 boul. René-Lévesques Est, Québec, QC G1R 5V7, Canada. 2: NSERC Northern Research Chair, CEN Centre d’études Nordiques, Département de Biologie, Université Laval, 1045 ave. de la Médecine, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada.

Publication date: July 19, 2012

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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