The effects of climate change on landscape diversity: an example in Ontario forests
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): I. D. Thompson; M. D. Flannigan; B. M. Wotton; R. Suffling
Publication Year: 1998

Cataloging Information

  • Abies balsamea
  • Alces alces
  • Betula papyrifera
  • black spruce
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • climate change
  • coniferous forests
  • crowns
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire dependent species
  • fire frequency
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • fuel loading
  • Great Lakes
  • herbivory
  • insects
  • lakes
  • logging
  • Lymantria dispar
  • mammals
  • mosaic
  • Odocoileus virginianus
  • Ontario
  • paleoecology
  • Picea
  • plant diseases
  • Populus grandidentata
  • Populus tremuloides
  • precipitation
  • predation
  • Quebec
  • seeds
  • stand characteristics
  • suppression
  • temperature
  • Tsuga canadensis
  • wildfires
  • wildlife
  • wildlife habitat management
  • windthrows
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 45183
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20655
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.


The predicted increase in climate warming will have profound impacts on forest ecosystems and landscapes in Canada because of increased temperature, and altered disturbance regimes. Climate change is predicted to be variable within Canada, and to cause considerable weather variability among years. Under a 2 × CO2 scenario, fire weather index (FWI) is predicted to rise over much of Ontario by 1.5 to 2 times. FWI may actually fall slightly, compared to current values, in central eastern Ontario (Abitibi), but for central-south Ontario it is expected to rise sharply by as much as 5 times current values. We predict that the combination of temperature rise and greater than average fire occurrence will result in a shrinkage of area covered by boreal forest towards the north and east; that some form of Great Lakes forest type will occupy most of central Ontario following the 5 C isotherm north; that pyrophilic species will become most common, especially jack pine and aspen; that patch sizes will initially decrease then expand resulting in considerable homogenization of forest landscapes; that there will be little 'old-growth' forest; and that landscape disequilibrium will be enhanced. If climate change occurs as rapidly as is predicted, then some species particularly those with heavy seeds may not be able to respond to the rapid changes and local extinctions are expected. Anthropogenically-altered species compositions in current forests, coupled with fire suppression over the past 50 years, may lead to forest landscapes that are different then were seen in the Holocene period, as described by paleoecological reconstructions. In particular, forests dominated by white pine in the south and black spruce in the middle north may not be common. Wildlife species that respond at the landscape level, i.e., those with body sizes >1 kg, will be most affected by changes in landscape structure. In particular we expect moose and caribou populations to decline significantly, while white-tailed deer will likely become abundant across Ontario and Quebec. © Springer Science+Business Media, 1998.

Thompson, I. D., M. D. Flannigan, B. M. Wotton, and R. Suffling. 1998. The effects of climate change on landscape diversity: an example in Ontario forests. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 49, no. 2-3, p. 213-233. 10.1023/A:1005894525278.