Dynamics and morphologie of giant circular patterns of low tree density in black spruce stands in northern Quebec.
Jean-François Giroux, Yves Bergeron, Jean Veillette.
Giant circular patterns of low tree density in black spruce (Picea mariana) stands were investigated in the Abitibi region of Quebec. We used dendrochronological techniques to test the hypotheses that ring patterns of low tree density are caused either by radial changes in spruce mortality or productivity. Seven circles were sampled. We found no gradient in the age of spruce along circle radii suggesting that rings of low tree density do not expand radially, that is, they are not spatially dynamic entities. The results indicate, however, that spruce trees were less dense and productive within the rings due to excessive moisture in the soil. Measurements of surface elevation, thickness of the organic layer and elevation of the mineral substrate across the circles revealed that a depression in the mineral soil beneath the rings traps the surface water and this area of poor drainage seems to prevent the establishment of black spruce within the rings. The origin of the ring-shaped depressions was attributed to geological or geomorphological causes.