Spatial vegetation diversity index along a postfire successional gradient in the northern boreal forest
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): M. Fortin; S. Payette; K. Marineau
Publication Year: 1999

Cataloging Information

  • boreal forest
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • Cladina mitis
  • Cladina rangiferina
  • Cladina stellaris
  • Cladonia
  • coniferous forests
  • disturbance
  • fire frequency
  • forest management
  • lichen
  • lichens
  • liverwort
  • moss
  • mosses
  • patchiness
  • Picea mariana
  • Pinus banksiana
  • post fire recovery
  • postfire succession
  • Quebec
  • spatial diversity index
  • spatial occupancy
  • species diversity (plants)
  • succession
  • vegetation surveys
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 44853
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20286
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.


Boreal forest dynamics and biodiversity are mainly governed by natural disturbances such as fire. Because boreal forest communities are typically species-poor and composed predominantly of wide-ranging circumboreal species, all measurements of biodiversity using the most common species richness-based indices are likely to underestimate vegetation diversity at the stand level. To estimate vegetation diversity differences, we introduce a spatial diversity index (SDI), which accounts not only for species richness and species abundance, but also for the spatial occupancy of species, a neglected although important component of plant diversity. We tested the SDI along a postfire successional gradient of the lichen woodland zone in northern Quebec using eleven sites with different postfire ages. The SDI allowed us to statistically differentiate three species' spatial occupancy patterns, which correspond to three successional stages (pioneer, expansion and stabilization). In our study, we were unable to discriminate between these three successional structural phases using only Simpson and Shannon diversity indices. We conclude that indices based only upon species richness and species abundance may fail to differentiate vegetation diversity between sites in the boreal forest, whereas the spatial diversity index has succeeded because it incorporates species space occupancy. © Ecoscience.

Fortin, M., S. Payette, and K. Marineau. 1999. Spatial vegetation diversity index along a postfire successional gradient in the northern boreal forest. Ecoscience, v. 6, no. 2, p. 204-213.