Résilience des pessières à mousses du Québec aux incendies peu sévères : conséquences pour le cycle du carbone à long terme

Authors: Boiffin, Juliette
Advisor: Munson, Alison
Abstract: Wildfire is a major driver of carbon dynamics in boreal forests. Immediate effects of wildfires include partial consumption of aboveground biomass and the forest floor, and carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Wildfires can also have long-term effect on carbon cycling. Indeed, when resilience of burned forests is exceeded, regenerating ecosystems differ from that of the pre-fire stands in composition, structure and biogeochemical cycles. Predictive models of carbon dynamics in boreal forests rarely take into account such multiple post-fire successional trajectories, which could bias long-term predictions of carbon storage and emissions. This study examined post-fire ecosystem resilience and carbon dynamics of black spruce-feathermoss forests of Quebec. Regeneration of black spruce, jack pine and understory plant communities were inventoried three to five years after the occurrence of a three-year episode of major fire activity in the province. In the studied plots, low burn severity had left intact a thick residual organic layer that impeded black spruce establishment. As a result, stem density of the burned stand decreased, while jack pine became dominant. Ericales resprouted abundantly. Understory regeneration was mainly driven by pre-fire site and stand characteristics. Post-fire understory composition reflected pre-fire species assemblages, because biological legacies were preserved by the low-severity fires. A model was used to simulate wildfires, succession and carbon dynamics at the landscape level, in order to assess the influence of forest floor combustion and post-fire tree regeneration on carbon cycling. After 500 years of simulation, modelling of burn severity and its influence on post-fire tree establishment caused a 13% decrease in predicted landscape carbon stocks. Simulation of the forest floor combustion alone caused a lower decrease in predicted carbon stocks than simulation of low spruce regeneration rates. Modelled fire emissions were mainly driven by variations in annual area burned. Loss of resilience of black spruce-feathermoss forests can have long-term consequences on carbon stocks. The model used in the present study could be further improved by incorporating explicit simulation of understory species dynamics.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2014
Open Access Date: 20 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/24869
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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