Linking forest fires to lake metabolism and carbon dioxide emissions in the boreal region of northern Quebec
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Delphine Marchand; Yves T. Prairie; Paul A. Del Giorgio
Publication Year: 2009

Cataloging Information

  • Abies balsamea
  • Betula papyrifera
  • boreal
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • carbon
  • carbon dioxide
  • carbon dioxide flux
  • coniferous forests
  • drainage
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • forest fire
  • lakes
  • lakes
  • mosaic
  • nutrient cycling
  • nutrients
  • organic carbon
  • organic matter
  • Picea glauca
  • Picea mariana
  • Pinus banksiana
  • plankton respiration
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Populus trichocarpa
  • Quebec
  • succession
  • water
  • watershed
  • watershed management
  • watersheds
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: December 3, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 48181
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24257
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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.


Natural fires annually decimate up to 1% of the forested area in the boreal region of Quebec, and represent a major structuring force in the region, creating a mosaic of watersheds characterized by large variations in vegetation structure and composition. Here, we investigate the possible connections between this fire-induced watershed heterogeneity and lake metabolism and CO2 dynamics. Plankton respiration, and water-air CO2 fluxes were measured in the epilimnia of 50 lakes, selected to lie within distinct watershed types in terms of postfire terrestrial succession in the boreal region of Northern Quebec. Plankton respiration varied widely among lakes (from 21 to 211 µg C L-1 day-1), was negatively related to lake area, and positively related to dissolved organic carbon (DOC). All lakes were supersaturated in CO2 and the resulting carbon (C) flux to the atmosphere (150 to over 3000 mg C m2 day-1) was negatively related to lake area and positively to DOC concentration. CO2 fluxes were positively related to integrated water column respiration, suggesting a biological component in this flux. Both respiration and CO2 fluxes were strongly negatively related to years after the last fire in the basin, such that lakes in recently burnt basins had significantly higher C emissions, even after the influence of lake size was removed. No significant differences were found in nutrients, chlorophyll, and DOC between lakes in different basin types, suggesting that the fire-induced watershed features influence other, more subtle aspects, such as the quality of the organic C reaching lakes. The fire-induced enhancement of lake organic C mineralization and C emissions represents a long-term impact that increases the overall C loss from the landscape as the result of fire, but which has never been included in current regional C budgets and future projections. The need to account for this additional fire-induced C loss becomes critical in the face of predictions of increasing incidence of fire in the circumboreal landscape. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Marchand, D., Y. T. Prairie, and P. A. del Giorgio. 2009. Linking forest fires to lake metabolism and carbon dioxide emissions in the boreal region of northern Quebec. Global Change Biology, v. 15, no. 12, p. 2861-2873. 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01979.x.