Canadian Forest Service Publications

Impacts of drought on forest growth and regeneration following fire in southwestern Yukon, Canada. 2005. Hogg, E.H.; Wein, R.W. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 35(9): 2141-2150.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25762

Language: English

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The valleys of southwestern Yukon have a continental climate with average annual precipitation of <300 mm. In 1958, fires burned large areas of mature mixedwood forests dominated by white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) in the valleys near Whitehorse. Since then, the burned areas have shown poor regeneration of spruce, but have been colonized by scattered clones of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) interspersed by grassland. The objective of the study was to examine the influence of climatic variation on forest growth and regeneration in the 1958 burn and the adjacent unburned forests. Tree-ring analysis was conducted on 50 aspen and 54 white spruce in 12 mature stands where these species were codominant, and on 147 regenerating aspen in the 1958 Takhini burn. The mature stands were uneven-aged and the patterns of growth variation for the aspen and spruce between 1944 and 2000 were similar. Growth of both species was most strongly related to variation in precipitation. The regenerating aspen had a wide age-class distribution (1959–2000) and their growth was also positively related to precipitation. The results indicate that these forests have been slow to regenerate after fire, and are vulnerable if the climate becomes drier under future global change.