Relationships between change in fire frequency and mortality due to spruce budworm outbreak in the southeastern Canadian boreal forest.
Yves Bergeron, Alain Leduc.
We present a simple empirical model that allows an estimation of mortality due to spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) outbreak in relation to fire frequency and site characteristics. The occurrence of a recent spruce budworm outbreak around Lake Duparquet (48 degrees 30' N, 79 degrees 20' W, ca. 300 m a.s.l.) in northwestern Quebec permit ted a reconstruction of the stand composition before the outbreak, and also of the mortality of Abies balsamea due to the outbreak. The basal area of A. balsamea increases with time since fire in all site types but with increasing values for (1) rock and shallow till, via (2) till and mesic clay up to (3) hydric clay. Mortality (measured as percentage loss of basal area due to the outbreak) increases with time since fire but did not vary with site type. The increasing abundance of A. balsamea with time since fire is mainly responsible for this increase in mortality. Mortality for a specific basal area is, however, lower for the more recently burned stands suggesting a significant residual effect of time since fire. A landscape model integrating mortality due to the outbreak for stands of different age is developed. Both absolute and relative losses of basal area increased with the length of the fire cycles. According to this model, changes in fire cycle could explain a large portion of the spatio-temporal variations observed in outbreak mortality in the southeastern boreal forest of Canada.