Canadian Forest Service Publications

Trees dying standing in the northeastern boreal old-growth forests of Quebec: spatial patterns, rates, and temporal variation. 2007. Aakala, T.; Kuuluvainen, T.; De Grandpré, L.; Gauthier, S. Can. J. For. Res. 37: 50-61.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26996

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


Spatial patterns, rates, and temporal variation of standing-tree mortality were studied in unmanaged boreal old-growth forests of northeastern Quebec. The study was carried out by sampling living and dead trees within 15 transects (400 m long, 40 m wide). The transects lay in stands that were classified according to their species composition in three types: dominated by black spruce. Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP; mixed P. mariana and balsam fir, Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.; and dominated by A. balsamea. Spatial patterns were analysed using Ripley's K function. The year of death was cross-dated using 190 sample discs extracted from dead standing A. balsamea and P. mariana to assess the rates and temporal variation of mortality. The spatial patterns of standing dead trees in P. mariana stands were predominantly clustered. The spatial patterns of large dead trees (>19 cm diameter at breast height (1.3 m height; DBH)) in mixed and A. balsamea-dominated stands were mainly random, with few stands showing clustered patterns. Small dead trees (9-19 cm DBH) in these stands were generally more clustered than larger trees. Tree mortality varied from year to year, though some mortality was observed in all the studied stand types for almost every year. Standing trees that had recently died accounted for 62%, 48%, and 51% of overall mortality in P. mariana-dominated, mixed, and A. balsamea-dominated stands, respectively. The results of this study indicate that mortality of standing trees outside of episodic mortality events (such as insect outbreaks) is an important process in the creation of structural complexity and habitat diversity in these stands.