Persistence of balsam fir and black spruce populations in the
mixedwood and coniferous bioclimatic domain of eastern
Yassine Messaoud, Venceslas-Claude Goudiaby, Yves Bergeron.
The boreal ecocline (ca 49°N) between the southern mixedwood (dominated by balsam fir) and the northern coniferous bioclimatic domain (dominated by black spruce) may be explained by a northward decrease of balsam fir regeneration, explaining the gradual shift to black spruce dominance. 7,010 sample plots, with absence of major disturbances, were provided by the Quebec Ministry of Forest, Fauna, and Parks. The regeneration (sapling abundance) of balsam fir and black spruce were compared within and between the two bioclimatic domains, accounting for parental trees, main soil type (clay and till) and climate conditions, reflected by summer growing degree?days above 5°C (GDD_5), total summer precipitation (May–August; PP_MA). Parental trees and soil type determined balsam fir and black spruce regeneration. Balsam fir and black spruce, respectively, showed higher regeneration in the mixedwood and the coniferous bioclimatic domains. Overall, higher regeneration was obtained on till for balsam fir, and on clay soils for black spruce. GDD_5 and PP_MA were beneficial for balsam fir regeneration on clay and till soils, respectively, while they were detrimental for black spruce regeneration. At a population level, balsam fir required at least 28% of parental tree basal area in the mixedwood, and 38% in the coniferous bioclimatic domains to maintain a regeneration at least equal to the mean regeneration of the whole study area. However, black spruce required 82% and 79% of parental trees basal area in the mixedwood and the coniferous domains, respectively. The northern limit of the mixedwood bioclimatic domain was attributed to a gradual decrease toward the north of balsam fir regeneration most likely due to cooler temperatures, shorter growing seasons, and decrease of the parental trees further north of this northern limit. However, balsam fir still persists above this northern limit, owing to a patchy occurrence of small parental trees populations, and good establishment substrates.