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Red Spruce Forest Regeneration Dynamics across a Gradient from Acadian Forest to Old Field in Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Canada

N. Cavallin and L. Vasseur
Plant Ecology
Vol. 201, No. 1, Forest Ecology (Mar., 2009), pp. 169-180
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40305629
Page Count: 12
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Red Spruce Forest Regeneration Dynamics across a Gradient from Acadian Forest to Old Field in Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Canada
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Abstract

Red spruce forests have declined considerably throughout their range in the past decades. As agricultural fields are abandoned and land becomes available for reforestation, the possibility arises for red spruce forests to expand onto them. This study addresses the potential for red spruce forests to expand onto adjacent old fields in Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Canada. We examined red spruce distribution and abundance, plant species diversity and changes in community composition along a gradient from the interior of red spruce forests out towards the centre of adjacent old fields. Examining the patterns of red spruce distribution and abundance revealed that, where cultivation and logging have been abandoned recently in the fields and forests, regeneration is limited to the forest stands, but in the sites with older fields and forests, regeneration extends into and is more vigorous in the fields. Although species diversity varied from forest to field only for the tree and shrub layers, important changes occurred in the ground species composition. There is no evidence yet that the herbaceous species present in the forest stands will colonise the old fields. The results suggest that both environmental differences among sites and length of time since the fields were abandoned explain red spruce regeneration patterns. In order to more accurately assess the potential for red spruce regeneration in old fields, long-term monitoring of the production, dispersal and viability of red spruce seeds from adjacent forests and of the constraints to seedling establishment and survival in old fields will be needed.

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