Threatened dry grasslands in the continental boreal forests of wood Buffalo National Park
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): A. G. Schwarz; R. W. Wein
Publication Year: 1997

Cataloging Information

  • biodiversity
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • cover
  • endangered spaces
  • endangered species
  • fire exclusion
  • forest management
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • national parks
  • native species (plants)
  • northern grasslands
  • Picea glauca
  • Pinus banksiana
  • plant communities
  • Populus
  • Populus tremuloides
  • shrubs
  • trees
  • vascular plants
  • wildfires
  • wood
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 45919
Tall Timbers Record Number: 21544
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.


Dry grasslands in Wood Buffalo National Park are unique biological features at 60º N latitude, since they contain plant species normally found in more southern grasslands at 50-55º N latitude. The objectives of this study were to inventory dry grasslands, classify them according to similarity of species cover, and establish relationships with understory species in Populus tremuloides and shrub communities. Dry grasslands were studied at nine sites; most were clustered in the Salt River and Peace Point areas. The largest unit of grassland was about 3.0 ha, and most units were less than 0.5 ha. This contrasts with the hundreds of hectares recorded earlier in the century. Of the 128 vascular plant species identified, 29 are considered as southern, and of these, 15 are regionally rare. Sixty-four plots were classified into nine community types, using two-way indicator species analysis. A group of six communities were dominated by grass and shrub species with component of southern grassland species. Three connumities, strongly dominated by Populus and shrubs, represent community types that invade dry grasslands. Ordination of plots using detrended correspondence analysis showed relationships among the community types and a clear separation of southern grassland species from those found in forest communities. Vascular plant diversity, as represented by mean species richness, ranged from about 15 to 28, and Shannon diversity indices ranged from 1.883 to 2.615. The cover of southern grassland species was negatively correlated (correlation coefficient of -0.524) with cover of tall shrubs and trees, suggesting that the dry grasslands of Wood Buffalo National Park are threatened by tree and shrub invasion, which is due, in part, to a lack of recent fires at these sites. © 1997 NRC Canada.

Schwarz, A. G., and R. W. Wein. 1997. Threatened dry grasslands in the continental boreal forests of wood Buffalo National Park. Canadian Journal of Botany, v. 75, p. 1363-1370.