Variation in local weather explains differences in fire regimes within a Québec south-eastern boreal forest landscape.
Igor Drobyshev, Micheal Flannigan, Yves Bergeron, Martin-Philippe Girardin, Byambagere Suran.
Variation in natural disturbance regime within a landscape is important for species population dynamics, because it controls spatial arrangement of sites providing regeneration and survival opportunities. In this study, we examine the differences in fire regime and evaluate possible sources of its variation between the surrounding mainland and the islands of Lake Duparquet (44.5 km2), a typical boreal lake in north-western Quebec, Canada. Dendrochronological reconstructions suggest that fires were frequent and of variable intensity on the islands, whereas fires were less frequent on the adjacent mainland, but were usually large and intense. Islands were significantly drier and warmer than the mainland, and maximum values of Fire Weather Index were significantly higher on the islands during both the early part of the fire season (May–June) and the whole fire season (May–September). The lightning density within the lake perimeter was significantly higher than in the surrounding mainland (0.63 v. 0.48 year–1 km–2 respectively). This pattern was a result of the differences in lightning density during the first half of the lightning season. The study suggests that more fire-prone local weather and higher frequency of lightning strikes could cause a higher frequency of low-intensity fires on the islands, compared with the mainland.