Current issue: 54(2)
The resilience of closed-crown coniferous stands within the boreal forest of North America is highly dependent on successful re-establishment of tree species following fire. A shift from closed-crown forest to open lichen woodland is possible following poor natural regeneration during the initial establishment phase, followed by the development of extensive lichen cover, which may hinder ongoing recruitment. We examined the development of the crustose lichen Trapeliopsis granulosa (Hoffm.) 18 to 21 years following fire within six sites in the boreal forest of northwestern Quebec, and explored its potential to affect ongoing recruitment during early successional stages of stand development. Germination and survivorship trials were conducted within the laboratory to determine the establishment rate of Pinus banksiana Lamb. (jack pine) on T. granulosa, mineral soil, and burnt duff under two separate watering frequencies (observed and drought). Survival and establishment rates of jack pine were highest on burnt duff, and poor on both T. granulosa and mineral soil. Under the drought treatment, no seedlings survived on any substrates. In the field, T. granulosa cover had a positive relationship with mineral soil cover, and negative relationships with duff cover, ericaceous shrub cover, organic layer depth, other lichen cover, and Sphagnum moss cover. No discernable relationship was found between T. granulosa and tree density, rock cover, dead wood cover or other moss cover. The development of extensive T. granulosa cover in fire-initiated stands can impede ongoing recruitment of conifer species due to its poor seedbed quality, thereby maintaining open forests.
The prescribed burning of a 7.3 ha clear-cut and a 1.7 ha partially cut forest (volume 150 m3/ha) was carried out in Evo (61 °12'N, 25°07'E) on 1 June 1992. The forest was a mesic Myrtillus site type forest dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.). Practically all the trees and the above-ground parts of the understorey vegetation died in the fire, while the mor layer was thinned by an average of 1.5 cm.
A study was made on the change of germinated seedling population in time and their dependence on environmental factors. Seedlings of Norway spruce, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), pubescent birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) were inventoried in 1993 and in 1994 on permanent plots, four times per growing season. Autoregression models were used to compare regeneration of tree species in the burned forest with regeneration in the burnt clear-cut area, and to study the effect of distance from nearest seed source to regeneration.
The average number of seedlings germinating in 1993 was higher than in 1994, probably because of differences between these consecutive years in regard to the amount of seed rain and weather conditions. The number of Norway spruce and rowan seedling was higher inside the forest area than in the clear-cut area. The distance to the bordering forest and to the closest seed tree did not explain the result. It is suggested that the more stable microclimatic conditions under the shade of dead tree promote germination and seedling establishment in the forest area. As rowan is a bird-dispersed species, it is likely that dead trees help the dispersal of rowan seed by providing birds place to sit and defecate. The shade provided by dead trees may influence the further succession of the tree stand and vegetation composition and diversity.