Vegetation, environmental characteristics and ideas on the maintenance of alvars in the Bruce Peninsula, Canada
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): C. A. Schaefer; D. W. Larson
Publication Year: 1997

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • bryophytes
  • Canada
  • catastrophic fires
  • coniferous forests
  • dendrochronology
  • distribution
  • disturbance
  • ground cover
  • herbaceous vegetation
  • Larix laricina
  • lichens
  • light
  • mosses
  • natural areas management
  • Ontario
  • openings
  • pine forests
  • Pinus banksiana
  • plant communities
  • soils
  • species diversity (plants)
  • statistical analysis
  • temperate forests
  • Thuja occidentalis
  • trees
  • vegetation surveys
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 36457
Tall Timbers Record Number: 10837
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
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.


Despite international recognition that alvar habitats are important reservoirs of biodiversity, they remain little studied in North America. In this paper, the results are reported on an investigation of alvars in the central portion of their known distribution on this continent. 210 plots were distributed amone seven sites and were quantitatively sampled for vascular plants, lichens, bryophytes and a suite of environmental variables. Detrended and Canonical Correspondence Analyses and other methods were used to investigate differences among: alvars, within alvars and between alvars and adjacent forested habitats. The plant communities and environmental conditions were highly similar among sites in the study region, yet very different from surrounding habitats. There were abrupt changes in vegetation and environmental conditions from alvar to forest, without the presence of transition zones in the vegetation or environmental gradients as the forest was approached. The environmental factors associated with the change from alvar to forest and with variation within alvar habitat were examined. Some alvars in the study were found to contain stunted, slow-growing trees reaching ages of 524 yr. These same sites appear to have remained unburned for several centuries. while other sites likely burned 90 yr ago. The plant communities were very similar between the alvars that lacked a major, biomass-removing disturbance in centuries and alvars that had experienced catastrophic fire relatively recently. Maintenance of the plant communities and open nature of alvars appears site-specific rather than habitat specific.© IVAS; Opulus Press Uppsala.

Schaefer, C. A., and D. W. Larson. 1997. Vegetation, environmental characteristics and ideas on the maintenance of alvars in the Bruce Peninsula, Canada. Journal of Vegetation Science, v. 8, p. 797-810.