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Temporal changes in stem decay and dead and sound wood volumes in the northeastern Canadian boreal forest

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Yield tables used for stand-level predictions of standing volume typically do not account for the presence of dead trees and stem decay. Yet, recently dead trees, referred to as dead and sound wood (DSW), could be considered as a valuable supplemental wood source. Conversely, stem decay can cause important losses during product recovery. Accordingly, the general objective of this study was to characterize the patterns of change of stem decay and of DSW as functions of time since the last fire (TSF). The amount of stem decay and of DSW per tree species were measured in two chronosequences of 30 stands each, covering more than 1000 years in the northeastern Canadian boreal forest. Stand-level decay volume increased during the first 150 years following fire and then stabilized. This volume was mainly composed of black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) when TSF <200 years and of balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) when TSF >200 years. Conversely, the volume of DSW declined rapidly after fire and increased gradually from about 200 years TSF. Hence, the loss of wood volume attributable to stem decay in old-growth stands was cancelled out by the increased availability of DSW, with a slightly positive balance of 3.5 m3/ha. This could be significant considering the large amount of old-growth stands in this part of the boreal forest.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre d'étude de la forêt (CEF), Département des sciences du bois et de la Forêt, Université Laval, Pavillon Abitibi-Price, 2405 rue de la Terrasse, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada.

Publication date: 2013-03-08

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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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