Coniferization of the mixed?wood boreal forests under warm climate.
Cécile Remy, Dominic Senici, Han Chen, Yves Bergeron, Martin Lavoie, Laure Paradis, Adam Ali.
Mixed?wood boreal forests are characterized by a heterogeneous landscape dominated by coniferous or deciduous species depending on stand moisture and fire activity. Our study highlights the long?term drivers of these differences between landscapes across mixed?wood boreal forests to improve simulated vegetation dynamics under predicted climate changes. We investigate the effects of main climate trends and wildfire activities on the vegetation dynamics of two areas characterized by different stand moisture regimes during the last 9000 years. We performed paleofire and pollen analyses in the mixed?wood boreal forest of north?western Ontario, derived from lacustrine sediment deposits, to reconstruct historical vegetation dynamics, which encompassed both the Holocene climatic optimum (ca. 8000–4000 a bp) and the Neoglacial period (ca. 4000 a bp). The past warm and dry period (Holocene climatic optimum) promoted higher fire activity that resulted in an increase in coniferous species abundance in the xeric area. The predicted warmer climate and an increase in drought events should lead to a coniferization of the xeric areas affected by high fire activity while the mesic areas may retain a higher broadleaf abundance, as these areas are not prone to an increase in fire activity.