Stand age structural dynamics of conifer, mixedwood, and hardwood stands in the boreal forest of central Canada


To study the effects of stand development and overstory composition on stand age structure, we sampled 32 stands representing conifer, mixedwood, and hardwood stand types, ranging in ages from 72 to 201 years on upland mesic sites in northwestern Ontario. We defined the stages of stand development as: stem exclusion/canopy transition, canopy transition, canopy transition/gap dynamics, and gap dynamics. Stand age structure of conifer stands changed from bimodal, bimodal, reverse-J, and bimodal, respectively, through the stages of stand development. Mixedwood and hardwood stands revealed similar trends, with the exception of missing the canopy transition/gap dynamic stage in mixedwoods. Canopy transition/gap dynamic stage in hardwoods showed a weaker reverse-J distribution than their conifer counterparts. The results suggest that forest management activities such as partial and selection harvesting and seed-tree systems may diversify standard landscape-level age structures and benefit wildlife, hasten the onset of old-growth, and create desired stand age structures. We also recommend that the determination of old-growth using the following criteria in the boreal forest: 1) canopy breakdown of pioneering cohort is complete and stand is dominated by later successional tree species, and 2) stand age structure is bimodal, with dominating canopy trees that fall within a relatively narrow range of age and height classes and a significant amount of understory regeneration.

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Fricker, J. , Wang, J. , Chen, H. and Duinker, P. (2013) Stand age structural dynamics of conifer, mixedwood, and hardwood stands in the boreal forest of central Canada. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 215-223. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.33025.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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