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Forests 2016, 7(9), 205; doi:10.3390/f7090205

Fires of the Last Millennium Led to Landscapes Dominated by Early Successional Species in Québec’s Clay Belt Boreal Forest, Canada

1
Département de Géographie and Centre D’études Nordiques, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
2
Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, Direction de la Recherche Forestière, Québec, QC G1P 3W8, Canada
3
Centre de Recherche Geotop, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Yves Bergeron and Sylvie Gauthier
Received: 3 August 2016 / Revised: 18 August 2016 / Accepted: 7 September 2016 / Published: 15 September 2016
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Abstract

This study presents the long-term (over the last 8000 years) natural variability of a portion of the Picea mariana-moss bioclimatic domain belonging to Québec’s Clay Belt. The landscapes are dominated by mesic-subhydric clay and early successional forests composed of Populus tremuloides, Pinus banksiana and Picea mariana. The natural variability (fires and vegetation) of one of these landscapes was reconstructed by means of pollen and macroscopic charcoal analysis of sedimentary archives from two peatlands in order to assess when and how such landscapes were formed. Following an initial afforestation period dominated by Picea (8000–6800 cal. Years BP), small and low-severity fires favored the development and maintenance of landscapes dominated by Picea and Abies balsamea during a long period (6800–1000 BP). Over the last 1000 years, fires have become more severe and covered a larger area. These fires initiated a recurrence dynamic of early successional stands maintained until today. A decline of Abies balsamea has occurred over the last centuries, while the pollen representation of Pinus banksiana has recently reached its highest abundance. We hypothesize that the fire regime of the last millennium could characterize Québec’s Clay Belt belonging to the western Picea mariana-moss and Abies balsamea-Betula papyrifera domains. View Full-Text
Keywords: boreal forest; forest fires; Holocene; pollen analysis; sedimentary charcoal; Québec; vegetation history boreal forest; forest fires; Holocene; pollen analysis; sedimentary charcoal; Québec; vegetation history
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Asselin, M.; Grondin, P.; Lavoie, M.; Fréchette, B. Fires of the Last Millennium Led to Landscapes Dominated by Early Successional Species in Québec’s Clay Belt Boreal Forest, Canada. Forests 2016, 7, 205.

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