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Forests 2016, 7(11), 254; doi:10.3390/f7110254

Anthropogenic Disturbances Create a New Vegetation Toposequence in the Gatineau River Valley, Quebec

1
Direction des Inventaires Forestiers, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, 5700 4e ave. ouest, Québec, QC G1H 6R1, Canada
2
Centre d’étude de la Forêt, Département des Sciences du bois et de la Forêt, Université Laval, 2405 rue de la Terrasse, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
3
Direction de la Recherche Forestière, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, 2700 rue Einstein, Québec, QC G1P 3W8, Canada
4
Département de Biologie, Chimie et Géographie, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300 allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, QC G5L 3A1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Barry Brook and Jessie C. Buettel
Received: 26 August 2016 / Revised: 12 October 2016 / Accepted: 23 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2882 KB, uploaded 28 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

This study measured changes in forest composition that have occurred since the preindustrial era along the toposequence of the Gatineau River Valley, Quebec, Canada (5650 km2), based on survey records prior to colonization (1804–1864) and recent forest inventories (1982–2006). Changes in forest cover composition over time were found to be specific to toposequence position. Maple and red oak are now more frequent on upper toposequence positions (+26%, +21%, respectively), whereas yellow birch, eastern hemlock, and American beech declined markedly (−34% to −17%). Poplar is more frequent throughout the landscape, but particularly on mid-toposequence positions (+40%). In contrast, white pine, frequent on all toposequence positions in the preindustrial forest, is now confined to shallow and coarse-textured soils (−20%). The preindustrial forest types of the study area were mostly dominated by maple, yellow birch, and beech, with strong components of white pine, hemlock, and eastern white cedar, either as dominant or codominant species. In a context of ongoing anthropogenic disturbances and environmental changes, it is probably not possible to restore many of these types, except where targeted silvicultural interventions could increase the presence of certain species. The new forest types observed should be managed to ensure continuity of vital ecosystem services and functions as disturbance regimes evolve. View Full-Text
Keywords: preindustrial forest; forest composition; forest types; toposequence; ecological land classification; potential vegetation preindustrial forest; forest composition; forest types; toposequence; ecological land classification; potential vegetation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Laflamme, J.; Munson, A.D.; Grondin, P.; Arseneault, D. Anthropogenic Disturbances Create a New Vegetation Toposequence in the Gatineau River Valley, Quebec. Forests 2016, 7, 254.

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