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Driving factors of conifer regeneration dynamics in eastern Canadian boreal old-growth forests

Martin Maxence, Montoro Girona Miguel et Morin Hubert. (2020). Driving factors of conifer regeneration dynamics in eastern Canadian boreal old-growth forests. PLoS ONE,

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Old-growth forests play a major role in conserving biodiversity, protecting water resources, sequestrating carbon, and these forests are indispensable resources for indigenous societies. To preserve the ecosystem services provided by these boreal ecosystems, it becomes necessary to develop novel silvicultural practices capable of emulating the natural dynamics and structural attributes of old-growth forests. The success of these forest management strategies depends on developing an accurate understanding of natural regeneration dynamics. Our goal was therefore to identify the main patterns and the drivers involved in the regeneration dynamics of old-growth forests, placing our focus on boreal stands dominated by black spruce (Picea mariana (L.) Mill.) and balsam fir (Balsam fir (L.) Mill.) in eastern Canada. We sampled 71 stands in a 2200 km2 study area located within Quebec’s boreal region. For each stand, we noted tree regeneration (seedlings and saplings), structural attributes (diameter distribution, deadwood volume, etc.), and abiotic (topography and soil) factors. We observed that secondary disturbance regimes and topographic constraints were the main drivers of balsam fir and black spruce regeneration. Furthermore, the regeneration dynamics of black spruce appeared more complex than those of balsam fir. We observed distinct phases of seedling production first developing within the understory, then seedling growth when gaps opened in the canopy, followed by progressive canopy closure. Seedling density, rather than the sapling density, had a major role in explaining the ability of black spruce to fill the canopy following a secondary disturbance. The density of balsam fir seedlings and saplings was also linked to the abundance of balsam fir trees at the stand level. This research helps explain the complexity of old-growth forest dynamics where many ecological factors interact at multiple temporal and spatial scales. This study also improves our understanding of ecological processes within native old-growth forests and identifies the key factors to consider when ensuring the sustainable management of old-growth boreal stands.

Type de document:Article publié dans une revue avec comité d'évaluation
Version évaluée par les pairs:Non
Date:1 Février 2020
Sujets:Sciences naturelles et génie > Sciences naturelles > Biologie et autres sciences connexes
Département, module, service et unité de recherche:Départements et modules > Département des sciences fondamentales
Mots-clés:black spruce, forest ecology, fire, habitat, natural disturbances, population dynamic, seedlings, spruce budworm, succession, sustainable forest management, uneven-aged stands, restoration
Déposé le:16 juin 2020 17:32
Dernière modification:16 juin 2020 17:32
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