Fire in boreal wet-meadows: Implications for climate change
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): John C. Hogenbirk; Ross W. Wein
Editor(s): Susan I. Cerulean; R. Todd Engstrom
Publication Year: 1995

Cataloging Information

  • Alberta
  • boreal
  • boreal meadows
  • Calamagrostis
  • Calamagrostis canadensis
  • Canada
  • climate change
  • climatology
  • cover
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire
  • fire frequency
  • fire impacts
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • global warming
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • hydrology
  • invasive species
  • plant growth
  • plant species diversity
  • population density
  • regeneration
  • soils
  • temperature
  • water
  • weeds
  • wet meadows
  • wetlands
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 2503
Tall Timbers Record Number: 10072
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Tall Timbers shelf
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Experiments conducted in wet-meadows in northeastern Alberta, Canada, tested hypotheses about species response to environmental changes expected during global warming. We hypothesized that (i) a lower water table would decrease abundance of the dominant mesophytic species (Calamagrostis canadensis) and increase abundance of xerophytic plant species; (ii) increased fire severity would increase the magnitude of change in species abundance; and (iii) Eurasian xerophytic species would increase in abundance more than native xerophytic species after treatment. Additional experiments test hypotheses that (i) the dominant species would show lower emergence and xerophytic species would show greater emergence at high than at low temperature, and (ii) that Eurasian xerophytic species would show greater emergence than native xerophytic species at high temperature. Experiments suggest that during climate change Calamagrostis Canadensis, the native graminoid species currently dominating boreal wet-meadows, would decrease abundance because of: (i) reduced growth (18 cm shorter, p>0.05, n=5 for all comparisons) caused by lower water tables; (ii) reduced regrowth (11 cm shorter), and 73% lower density after severe fire; and (iii) 30% lower seedling emergence from warmer soils. In contrast, Eurasian xerophytic weedy dicotyledons would increase abundance because of: (i) 500% higher density and cover caused by lower water table; (ii) 80% higher density and 10-20% higher cover after fire; and (iii) 300% higher seedling emergence from warmer soils. Eurasian dicotyledon density was 30-80% higher and cover was 240-320% higher than that of native dicotyledons after similar treatments. Observations suggest that Eurasian weeds will become more abundant during climate change because they are already widespread and often occupy drier parts of disturbed areas in the north; have widely dispersed propagules; show vigorous and rapid growth; and persist in areas long after the disturbance. It is hypothesized that flooding will become less frequent in boreal wet-meadows because of predicted reductions in stream flow and lake water levels. Fire is hypothesized to become more frequent, intense, and severe, and thus replace flooding as the major force affecting vegetation dynamics. We hypothesize that during climate change Eurasian weedy species will dominate boreal wet-meadows for 20 years or more after severe fires.

Hogenbirk, John C.; Wein, Ross W. 1995. Fire in boreal wet-meadows: implications for climate change. Pages 21-29. In: Fire in wetlands: a management perspective. Proceedings of the Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station.