Climate Variation and Disturbance Regime Affect Stand Composition and Structure of the Boreal Forests in Southwest Yukon of Canada

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DOI: 10.4236/ojf.2015.54029    1,638 Downloads   1,797 Views  

ABSTRACT

The cold and dry boreal forests of the Southwest Yukon are dominated by white spruce (Picea glauca), trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) and balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), and the variability in structure and composition of stands depends on the favourability of disturbance, climate and site conditions for stimulating regeneration. In this study, we investigated relationships between stand structure and ecological, climatic and disturbance factors in the southwest Yukon. We found that white spruce dominates mature forests across the landscape, but it is regenerating proportionately less than trembling aspen. Nevertheless, regeneration of all the three species was abundant following any type or severity of disturbance. Height and diameter of both species varied with several environmental variables, particularly site physiography. Mixed stands of aspen and white spruce were more productive than pure stands of aspen or spruce. However, overall productivity in mixed stand decreased when density of aspen was more than 1000 stems/ ha. These results suggested that mixed stands of deciduous and coniferous species where appropriate should be promoted maintaining aspen density below 1000 stems/ha as the productivity declined beyond this threshold. Similarly, we suggest carrying out selection harvesting of co-dominant trees and regular thinning of intermediate trees to promote the height and diameter growth of the remaining trees.

Cite this paper

Paudel, S. , Simard, S. , Nitschke, C. and Innes, J. (2015) Climate Variation and Disturbance Regime Affect Stand Composition and Structure of the Boreal Forests in Southwest Yukon of Canada. Open Journal of Forestry, 5, 337-352. doi: 10.4236/ojf.2015.54029.

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