Lichen-Spruce Woodland Early Indicators of Ecological Resilience Following Silvicultural Disturbances in Québec’s Closed-Crown Forest Zone


Lichen woodlands (LW) located in the closed-crown boreal forest are not a successional stage moving towards a closed black spruce feathermoss stand (FM), but an alternative stable state, due to their previous forest history, and the occurrence of LWs located nearby closed-crown FM stands. Therefore, afforestation in those LWs through site preparation and plantation could shift back LW into FM stands. We implemented an experimental design with different combinations of silvicultural treatments in both site types (LW, FM). We monitored the evolution of plant diversity and the physiology of three bio-indicators (Picea mariana, Kalmia angustifolia, Rhododendron groenlandicum) in different microsites created by the silvicultural treatments. The return to the initial composition was noticed only two years after treatments, especially in the LW stands, thus indicating a higher level of early ecosystem resilience in LWs compared to FM stands. Mean species cover, especially in the FM stands, decreased the most in the skid trails created by logging, probably due to a lack of acclimation of bryophytes to open stand conditions. Conversely, ericaceous shrubs and lichens found in the LWs were already acclimated to open stand conditions, which give to LWs a restructuring advantage compared to FM plant communities after silvicultural treatments. Overall, FM and LW short-term resilience was similar, indicating equally efficient ecosystem reorganization in both stands. The comparable early resilience in managed LW and FM stands, in terms of plant biodiversity, contradicts the presumed fragility of LW stands, especially in this case where LWs are assumed to be an alternative stable state created by compound disturbances. Silvicultural treatments maintained the functional group diversity in LWs, a key element for ecosystem resilience. Therefore, this study support the idea that plantation following site preparation in LWs could be a valuable management strategy to reach several objectives, such as increasing forest carbon sinks.

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E. Gonzalez, F. Hébert, J. Boucher, P. Sirois and D. Lord, "Lichen-Spruce Woodland Early Indicators of Ecological Resilience Following Silvicultural Disturbances in Québec’s Closed-Crown Forest Zone," American Journal of Plant Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 3A, 2013, pp. 749-765. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2013.43A094.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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