Canadian Forest Service Publications

Eighty years of change: vegetation in the montane ecoregion of Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. 2002. Rhemtulla, J.M.; Hall, R.J.; Higgs, E.S.; Macdonald, S.E. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32(11): 2010-2021.

Year: 2002

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25058

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

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Repeat ground photographs (taken in 1915 and 1997) from a series of topographical survey stations and repeat aerial photographs (flown in 1949 and 1991) were analysed to assess changes in vegetation composition and distribution in the montane ecoregion of Jasper National Park, in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada. A quantitative approach for assessing relative vegetation change in repeat ground photographs was developed and tested. The results indicated a shift towards late-successional vegetation types and an increase in crown closure in coniferous stands. Grasslands, shrub, juvenile forest, and open forests decreased in extent, and closed-canopy forests became more prevalent. The majority of forest stands succeeded to dominance by coniferous species. Changes in vegetation patterns were likely largely attributable to shifts in the fire regime over the last century, although climatic conditions and human activity may also have been contributing factors. Implications of observed changes include decreased habitat diversity, increased possibility of insect outbreaks, and potential for future high-intensity fire events. Results of the study increase knowledge of historical reference conditions and may help to establish restoration goals for the montane ecoregion of the park.