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Plant Community Structure After Wildfire in the Subarctic Forests of Western Labrador

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We compared western Labrador (Canada) plant communities on 12 10-ha plots representing five forest ages (2, 18, 40, 80, and 140 years) on subhygric sites and two 140-year-old sites on an atypical, moist, well-drained soil. Species richness was less variable and lower on the 80-year-old sites, and conifers did not dominate a site until 40 to 80 years after a disturbance. Herbs were dominant on 2- and 18-year-old sites, whereas woody shrubs were common across all successional stages. Cladina spp. were most abundant on our 40-year-old sites but were replaced by pleurocarpous mosses on our ≥80-year-old sites. Our results are consistent with others who found a delay in conifer establishment that may have resulted from poor seed beds due to the accumulation of unburned duff and inhibitory chemicals from Cladina spp. If these factors are inhibiting conifer establishment, this may conflict with the objectives of forest managers considering emulating natural disturbance in forest operations.
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Keywords: Fire; plants; subarctic forests; succession

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Natural Resources, Station BHappy Valley-Goose Bay NL Canada A0P 1E0 2: Labrador West Campus College of the North Atlantic Labrador City NL Canada A2V 2Y1

Publication date: 01 December 2005

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