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Letter

How Initial Forest Cover, Site Characteristics and Fire Severity Drive the Dynamics of the Southern Boreal Forest

1
Institut de recherche sur les forêts, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 5E4, Canada
2
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, Québec, QC G1V 4C6, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(23), 3957; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233957
Received: 27 October 2020 / Revised: 25 November 2020 / Accepted: 30 November 2020 / Published: 3 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Natural Forest Disturbances)
Forest fires are a key driver of boreal landscape dynamics and are expected to increase with climate change in the coming decades. A profound understanding of the effects of fire upon boreal forest dynamics is thus critically needed for our ability to manage these ecosystems and conserve their services. In the present study, we investigate the long-term post-fire forest dynamics in the southern boreal forests of western Quebec using historical aerial photographs from the 1930s, alongside with modern aerial photographs from the 1990s. We quantify the changes in forest cover classes (i.e., conifers, mixed and broadleaved) for 16 study sites that were burned between 1940 and 1970. We then analyzed how interactions between pre-fire forest composition, site characteristics and a fire severity weather index (FSWI) affected the probability of changes in forest cover. In the 1930s, half of the cover of sampled sites were coniferous while the other half were broadleaved or mixed. Between the 1930s and the 1990s, 41% of the areas maintained their initial cover while 59% changed. The lowest probability of changes was found with initial coniferous cover and well drained till deposits. Moreover, an important proportion of 1930s broadleaved/mixed cover transitioned to conifers in the 1990s, which was mainly associated with high FSWI and well-drained deposits. Overall, our results highlight a relatively high resistance and resilience of southern boreal coniferous forests to fire, which suggest that future increase in fire frequency may not necessarily result in a drastic loss of conifers. View Full-Text
Keywords: air photo interpretation; disturbance ecology; historical ecology; landscape ecology; mixed boreal forests air photo interpretation; disturbance ecology; historical ecology; landscape ecology; mixed boreal forests
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MDPI and ACS Style

Danneyrolles, V.; Valeria, O.; Djerboua, I.; Gauthier, S.; Bergeron, Y. How Initial Forest Cover, Site Characteristics and Fire Severity Drive the Dynamics of the Southern Boreal Forest. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 3957. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233957

AMA Style

Danneyrolles V, Valeria O, Djerboua I, Gauthier S, Bergeron Y. How Initial Forest Cover, Site Characteristics and Fire Severity Drive the Dynamics of the Southern Boreal Forest. Remote Sensing. 2020; 12(23):3957. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233957

Chicago/Turabian Style

Danneyrolles, Victor, Osvaldo Valeria, Ibrahim Djerboua, Sylvie Gauthier, and Yves Bergeron. 2020. "How Initial Forest Cover, Site Characteristics and Fire Severity Drive the Dynamics of the Southern Boreal Forest" Remote Sensing 12, no. 23: 3957. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233957

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