How Climate Change Might Affect Tree Regeneration Following Fire at Northern Latitudes: A Review
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Climate change is projected to increase fire severity and frequency in the boreal forest, but it could also directly affect post-fire recruitment processes by impacting seed production, germination, and seedling growth and survival. We reviewed current knowledge regarding the effects of high temperatures and water deficits on post-fire recruitment processes of four major tree species (Picea mariana, Pinus banksiana, Populus tremuloides and Betula papyrifera) in order to anticipate the effects of climate change on forest recovery following fire in the boreal biome. We also produced maps of future vulnerability of post-fire recruitment by combining tree distributions in Canada with projections of temperature, moisture index and fire regime for the 2041–2070 and 2071–2100 periods. Although our review reveals that information is lacking for some regeneration stages, it highlights the response variability to climate conditions between species. The recruitment process of black spruce is likely to be the most affected by rising temperatures and water deficits, but more tolerant species are also at risk of being impacted by projected climate conditions. Our maps suggest that in eastern Canada, tree species will be vulnerable mainly to projected increases in temperature, while forests will be affected mostly by droughts in western Canada. Conifer-dominated forests are at risk of becoming less productive than they currently are, and eventually, timber supplies from deciduous species-dominated forests could also decrease. Our vulnerability maps are useful for prioritizing areas where regeneration monitoring efforts and adaptive measures could be developed.
Boucher, D., S. Gauthier, N. Thiffault, W. Marchand, M. Girardin, and M. Urli. 2019. How climate change might affect tree regeneration following fire at northern latitudes: a review. New Forests: 1-29.