Comparison of the understory vegetation in boreal forest types of southwest Quebec.
Sonia Légaré, Yves Bergeron, Alain Leduc, David Paré.
Variation in canopy composition can influence ecosystem processes, such as nutrient cycling and light transmittance, even when environmental soil conditions are similar. To determine whether forest cover type influences species composition of the understory vegetation (herbs and shrubs), the composition of this layer was studied on two different surface deposits, clay and till, and under four different forest cover types dominated, respectively, by Populus tremuloides Michx. (aspen), Betula papyrifera Marsh. (white birch), Pinus banksiana Lamb. (jack pine), and Picea glauca (Moench) Voss - Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. (spruce-fir) over similar environmental conditions. Detrended correspondence analysis and analysis of variance performed on the ordination scores revealed that understory plant composition was highly affected by surface deposit and forest cover. The gradient observed in the correspondence analysis proceeds from aspen, white birch, spruce-fir, to jack pine. Indicator species were identified for each surface deposit and cover type, and most of them were associated with either jack pine or aspen. The richness, evenness, and diversity of the understory vegetation did not vary between cover types, but were affected by surface deposit. By controlling ecosystem processes such as light transmittance and nutrient cycling, forest cover influences understory composition.