Does soil organic layer thickness affect climate-growth relationships in the black spruce boreal ecosystem?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Igor Drobyshev; Martin J. Simard; Yves Bergeron; Annika Hofgaard
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • black spruce
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • climate change
  • climate change
  • coniferous forests
  • dendrochronology
  • dendroecology
  • fire frequency
  • forest management
  • overstory
  • paludification
  • Picea
  • Picea mariana
  • Quebec
  • soil conditions
  • soil organic matter
  • succession
  • succession
  • temperature
  • trees
  • understory vegetation
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 13, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 48625
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24799
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in 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.


The observed long-term decrease in the regional fire activity of Eastern Canada results in excessive accumulation of organic layer on the forest floor of coniferous forests, which may affect climate-growth relationships in canopy trees. To test this hypothesis, we related tree-ring chronologies of black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) to soil organic layer (SOL) depth at the stand scale in the lowland forests of Quebec's Clay Belt. Late-winter and early-spring temperatures and temperature at the end of the previous year's growing season were the major monthly level environmental controls of spruce growth. The effect of SOL on climate-growth relationships was moderate and reversed the association between tree growth and summer aridity from a negative to a positive relationship: trees growing on thin organic layers were thus negatively affected by drought, whereas it was the opposite for sites with deep (> 20-30 cm) organic layers. This indicates the development of wetter conditions on sites with thicker SOL. Deep SOL were also associated with an increased frequency of negative growth anomalies (pointer years) in tree-ring chronologies. Our results emphasize the presence of nonlinear growth responses to SOL accumulation, suggesting 20-30 cm as a provisional threshold with respect to the effects of SOL on the climate-growth relationship. Given the current climatic conditions characterized by generally low-fire activity and a trend toward accumulation of SOL, the importance of SOL effects in the black spruce ecosystem is expected to increase in the future. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Online Link(s):
Drobyshev, I., M. Simard, Y. Bergeron, and A. Hofgaard. 2010. Does soil organic lLayer thickness affect climate-growth relationships in the black spruce boreal ecosystem? Ecosystems, v. 13, no. 4, p. 556-574. 10.1007/s10021-010-9340-7.