Deadwood abundance in post-harvest and post-fire residual patches:
An evaluation of patch temporal dynamics in black spruce boreal forest.
Louiza Moussaoui, Nicole J. Fenton, Alain Leduc, Yves Bergeron.
In managed boreal forests, variable retention harvest is considered by forest managers as a means of mitigating harvest impacts on biodiversity. Variable retention harvest consists of maintaining within a cutblock structural attributes of the original forest stand in intact forest patches that could provide quality habitat (i.e., with large trees and deadwood) for many forest species during forest regeneration. However, retention patch modalities (size, shape, age of the forest) allowing both persistence and sustainable recruitment of deadwood over time remains unknown. The objective of this study is to evaluate the abundance of recent deadwood in post-harvest and post-fire residual patches and to compare their temporal dynamics in black spruce dominated stands located in northwestern Quebec. Abundance of the recent deadwood, estimated as the sum of recent standing deadwood volume and recently fallen deadwood volume was analyzed in 41 post-fire residual patches, and in 45 post-harvest retention patches of varying ages (i.e. exposure time to the disturbed matrix) and in 37 continuous black spruce forest stands (controls). This study shows that post-fire residual patches appear in general more durable than post-harvest retention patches after disturbance. In a management context, our results indicate that: (1) large island patches and large linear separators oriented to escape windthrow usually have deadwood recruitment dynamics similar to that of post-fire patches; (2) retention patches with an initial stand volume greater than 60 m3/ha will generate more deadwood volume over time. This suggests that the selection of large retention patches in the shape of an island or a separator, with high volume (between 60 and 300 m3/ha) should help increase the persistence of post-harvest retention patches in black spruce forest, and simultaneously ensure quality habitat for several forest species while the adjacent managed forest regenerates.