Canadian Forest Service Publications

Paludification dynamics in the boreal forest of the James Bay Lowlands: effect of time since fire and topography. 2009. Simard, M.; Bernier, P.Y.; Bergeron, Y.; Paré, D.; Guérine, L. Can. J. For Res. 39: 546-552.

Year: 2009

Available from: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 29482

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Abstract

In many northern forest ecosystems, soil organic matter accumulation can lead to paludification and forest productivity losses. Paludification rate is primarily influenced by topography and time elapsed since fire, two factors whose influence is often confounded and whose discrimination would help forest management. This study, which was conducted in the black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) boreal forest of northwestern Quebec (Canada), aimed to (1) quantify the effect of slope and time since fire on paludification rates, (2) determine whether soil organic layer depth could be estimated by surface variables that can potentially be remotely sensed, and (3) relate the degree of paludification to tree productivity. In this study, soil organic layer depth was used as an estimator of the degree of paludification to tree productivity. In this study, soil organic layer depth was used as an estimator of the degree of paludification. Slope and postfire age strongly affected paludification dynamics. Young stands growing on steep slopes had thinner organic layers and lower organic matter accumulation rates compared with young stands growing on flat sites. Black spruce basal area and Sphagnum cover were strong predictors of organic layer depth, potentially allowing mapping of paludification degree across the landscape. Tree productivity was negatively related to organic layer depth (R2 = 0.57). The equations developed here can be used to quantify forest productivity decline in stands that are undergoing paludification, as well as potential productivity recovery given appropriate site preparation techniques.

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