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An early forest inventory indicates high accuracy of forest composition data in pre-settlement land survey records

Terrail Raphaële, Arseneault Dominique, Fortin Marie-Josée, Dupuis Sébastien, Boucher Yan et De Cáceres Miquel. (2013). An early forest inventory indicates high accuracy of forest composition data in pre-settlement land survey records. Journal of Vegetation Science, 25, (3), p. 691-702.

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Questions: Do early land survey records of the 'line description' type allow accurate reconstructions of pre-settlement forest composition? Did surveyors record all tree taxa in forest stands encountered along the surveyed lines? Were taxa ranked according to their relative importance in forest stands? What criteria did surveyors used to rank taxa in stands?

Location: Northern range limit of northern hardwoods, Lower St. Lawrence region, eastern Québec, Canada.

Methods: Validation of 1695 taxon lists recorded by surveyors in the 19th century through comparison of the number of stems by tree species and stem diameter classes recorded in 2790 old-growth plots over the same two regions during a 1930 forest inventory.

Results: Taxon prevalence and dominance (i.e. proportion of observations for which each taxon is dominant) are highly correlated between the pre-settlement surveys and the 1930 forest inventory data sets. Surveyors ranked taxa in decreasing order of relative importance, using criteria directly equivalent to basal area of stems in modern forest inventory plots. Taxon prevalence is more accurately reconstructed using relative metrics (i.e. ranks of taxon prevalence in a region), whereas taxon dominance is more accurately reconstructed using absolute metrics (percentage of dominant stands across landscapes). The early land surveys allow spatial patterns of forest composition to be reconstructed by computing relative taxon prevalence in cells of 3 km × 3 km. Prevalence of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and white birch (Betula papyrifera) are underestimated in survey data, probably reflecting their low economic value in the 19th century.

Conclusions: Taxon lists of early surveyors can accurately reconstruct pre-settlement forest composition and spatial patterns using metrics of taxon prevalence and dominance across landscapes. Relative prevalence is a more comprehensive description of forest composition than dominance, but tends to underestimate some taxa. Absolute taxon dominance is a more robust metric than prevalence, but only reports on the abundance of the most dominant taxa.

Type de document:Article publié dans une revue avec comité d'évaluation
Pages:p. 691-702
Version évaluée par les pairs:Oui
Identifiant unique:10.1111/jvs.12142
Sujets:Sciences naturelles et génie > Sciences appliquées > Foresterie et sciences du bois
Département, module, service et unité de recherche:Départements et modules > Département des sciences fondamentales
Mots-clés:Early land survey records, historical forest ecology, line descriptions, Northern hardwoods, pre-settlement forest composition, taxa dominance, taxa prevalence
Informations complémentaires:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Terrail, R., Arseneault, D., Fortin, M.‐J., Dupuis, S. and Boucher, Y. (2014), An early forest inventory indicates high accuracy of forest composition data in pre‐settlement land survey records. J Veg Sci, 25: 691-702., which has been published in final form at: This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Déposé le:17 mai 2022 19:21
Dernière modification:17 mai 2022 19:21
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