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Forests 2016, 7(7), 139; doi:10.3390/f7070139

Detecting Local Drivers of Fire Cycle Heterogeneity in Boreal Forests: A Scale Issue

1
Institut de Recherche sur les Forêts, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Centre d’étude de la forêt, Case Postale 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville Montréal, Quebec, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
2
Département des Sciences Biologiques, Chaire Industrielle CRSNG UQAT-UQAM en Aménagement Forestier Durable, Université du Québec à Montréal and Centre d’étude de la forêt, Case Postale 8888, succursale Centre-Ville Montréal, Quebec, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
3
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, 1055 du PEPS, PO Box 10380, Stn. Sainte-Foy, Québec, QC G1V 4C7, Canada
4
Centre d’étude de la forêt, Case Postale 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville Montréal, Montreal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
5
Département des Sciences Fondamentales, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, 555 Boulevard de l’Université, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 2B1, Canada
6
Chaire Industrielle CRSNG UQAT-UQAM en Aménagement Forestier Durable, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Université du Québec à Montréal, 445, boul. de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 5E4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Timothy A. Martin and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 30 May 2016 / Revised: 24 June 2016 / Accepted: 29 June 2016 / Published: 12 July 2016
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Abstract

Severe crown fires are determining disturbances for the composition and structure of boreal forests in North America. Fire cycle (FC) associations with continental climate gradients are well known, but smaller scale controls remain poorly documented. Using a time since fire map (time scale of 300 years), the study aims to assess the relative contributions of local and regional controls on FC and to describe the relationship between FC heterogeneity and vegetation patterns. The study area, located in boreal eastern North America, was partitioned into watersheds according to five scales going from local (3 km2) to landscape (2800 km2) scales. Using survival analysis, we observed that dry surficial deposits and hydrography density better predict FC when measured at the local scale, while terrain complexity and slope position perform better when measured at the middle and landscape scales. The most parsimonious model was selected according to the Akaike information criterion to predict FC throughout the study area. We detected two FC zones, one short (159 years) and one long (303 years), with specific age structures and tree compositions. We argue that the local heterogeneity of the fire regime contributes to ecosystem diversity and must be considered in ecosystem management. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest ecology; fire cycle; multi-scale models; survival analysis; physiographic drivers forest ecology; fire cycle; multi-scale models; survival analysis; physiographic drivers
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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

Bélisle, A.C.; Leduc, A.; Gauthier, S.; Desrochers, M.; Mansuy, N.; Morin, H.; Bergeron, Y. Detecting Local Drivers of Fire Cycle Heterogeneity in Boreal Forests: A Scale Issue. Forests 2016, 7, 139.

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