UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Classification of trembling aspen ecosystems in British Columbia Klinka, Karel 2001-04-04

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Classification of Trembling Aspen Ecosystemsin British ColumbiaTrembling aspen is one of the most common tree speciesin  the boreal and temperate  zones of North America. Itoccurs across all of non-arctic Alaska and Canada, and thenorthern continental USA and reaches south to the westcoast of Mexico. In British Columbia (BC), aspen grows inall forested biogeoclimatic zones, except the MH zone. Itis common in the BWBS, SBS, MS, IDF, and ICH zones.Its occurrence is marginal in the SWB, ESSF, SBPS, PP,CDF, and CWH zones.Aspen has become an important timber crop species in theprovince, yet the full ecological value of aspen in the borealforest is not yet fully understood.  The classic successionalsequence  of a boreal forest  begins the  removal  ordisturbance of a coniferous stand  by wildfire and theestablishment of a broad-leaved stand. Over time the borealconifers, such as white and black spruce, re-establish andremain until the next stand-disturbing event. The increasingpresence of seral aspen stands across the landscape andthe  increasing  demand for  timber  has motivated forestmanagers to search for ways to utilize the aspen timberresource as well as establish and grow coniferous trees inassociation with the aspen.  An improved knowledge ofaspen ecology,  ecosystems, and stand  productivity anddynamics is  needed to  improve  management of theseecosystems, which presupposes their classification.There have been only a few ecological studies carried outin aspen ecosystems in BC. These studies included localclassification of aspen ecosystems, aspen site index modelingand prediction from environmental factors, relationshipsbetween aspen site index and soil properties, and humusform characterization. While this information has added toour knowledge base, many of these studies  have beencarried out locally. In order to integrate this informationand provide a complimentary tool for further studies ofaspen ecosystems and their comparison with other studiesacross North America, we have developed a regionalvegetation classification. The classification, which followsthe  methods of biogeoclimatic ecosystem classificationsystem, is based on 186 samples of aspen-dominated standsacross the BWBS, SBS, SBPS, IDF, MS, and ICH zonesScientia Silvica Extension Series, Number 27, 2001Map showing the range of trembling aspen in British Columbia and thedistribution of sample plots.Distribution frequencySample plotsinfrequentfrequentvery frequentisolated standplot locationnumber of plots at a location(4)(8)(5)(3)(3)(3)(3)(4)(7)(3)(3)(3) (3)(3)(8)(2)(4) (4)(4) (5)(6)(2)(2)(9) (2) (2)of BC. Our aim was to organize aspen communities intogroups that show the greatest number of vegetation andvegetation-environment relationships, are easily retained inmemory,  and are easily conveyed through  instruction.However, we do not claim that we have accounted for allthe many different aspen community; thus the classificationpresented is but the first approximation.Other aspects of aspen growth  and boreal ecology arepresented in the following Scientia Silvica Extension Series(SSES): height growth and site index models (SSES No. 2and SSES No. 45), site index - site quality relationships(SSES No. 43), comparison of understory plant diversitybetween black spruce  and trembling  aspen ecosystems(SSES No. 32), and comparison of humus form and soilnutrients between of black spruce  and trembling  aspenecosystems (SSES No. 31).ReferenceKrestov, P.V., K. Klinka, C. Chourmouzis, and C. Hanel. 2000.Classification of trembling  aspen ecosystems in    BritishColumbia. Forest Sciences Department, University of BritishColumbia, Vancouver, BC. 112 pp.Ordering InformationThis report is available in full colour or black-and-white printedversions or in electronic format on the Scientia Silvica CD-ROM.Order information is available on www.forestry.ubc.ca/klinkaor from Karel Klinka (klinka@interchange.ubc.ca)Scientia Silvica  is published by the Forest Sciences Department,The University of British Columbia, ISSN 1209-952XEditor: Karel Klinka (klinka@interchange.ubc.ca)Production and design: Christine Chourmouzis (chourmou@interchange.ubc.ca)Financial support: Site Productivity Working Group, BC Ministry of ForestsFor more information contact: Karel KlinkaCopies of the extension series are available from: www.forestry.ubc.ca/klinka, or K.Klinka,Forest Sciences Department, UBC,3036-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4VPVDMDSD(f)F(f)M(f)VM(f)W(f)PMRVRSoil nutrient regimeSoil moisture regime223 Lathyrus ? ActaeaBWBSdk subzoneBWBSmw subzoneSBS zoneSBPS zonegrasslands, shrubs, and/or stunted tree black/white spruce coniferous communities> 50%20 - 50%< 20%Zone/subzoneDistribution of plots accordingto zone/subzone113 Mertensia ? Petasites222 Lathyrus ? typic112 Mertensia ? Arnica 111 Mertensia ? FestucaVPVDMDSD(f)F(f)M(f)VM(f)W(f)PMRVRSoil nutrient regimeSoil moisture regimeZone/subzoneDistribution of plots accordingto zone/subzone425 Rosa ? Shepherdia IDF zoneMS zoneICH zoneSBS zoneSBPS zonewhite/black spruce coniferous communities422 Rosa ? Arnica424 Rosa ? Senecio423 Rosa ? Angelica310 Thalictrum 421 Rosa ? Aralia412 Viburnum ? Paxistima> 50%20 - 50%< 20%411 Viburnum ? SpireaBWBSdk subzoneEdatopic grid showing the generalized relationship of vegetation units to soilnutrient and moisture conditions in the BWBS zone.Edatopic grid showing the generalized relationship of vegetation units to soilnutrient and moisture conditions in the IDF, MS, ICH,SBS and SBPS zones.Synopsis of delineated vegetation units in trembling aspen ecosystems. Numerical codes indicateposition of a unit in the hierarchy. Asterisk indicates an insufficient sampled unit (<10 plots)Code Plant alliance    Plant association    Plant subassociation 100  Populus tremuloides - Mertensia paniculata 110    Populus tremuloides - Mertensia paniculata  111      Populus tremuloides - Mertensia paniculata: Festuca altaica* (4 plots) 112      Populus tremuloides - Mertensia paniculata: Arnica cordifolia (14 plots) 113      Populus tremuloides - Mertensia paniculata: Petasites frigidus (13 plots) 200  Populus tremuloides - Elymus innovatus 210    Populus tremuloides - Ledum groelandicum (10 plots) 220    Populus tremuloides - Lathyrus ochroleucus  221      Populus tremuloides- Lathyrus ochroleucus: Hedysarum boreale (11 plots) 222      Populus tremuloides- Lathyrus ochroleucus: typic (31 plots) 223      Populus tremuloides- Lathyrus ochroleucus: Actaea rubra (10 plots) 300  Populus tremuloides - Thalictrum occidentale  310    Populus tremuloides - Thalictrum occidentale (10 plots) 400  Populus tremuloides - Symphoricarpos albus 410    Populus tremuloides - Viburnum edule 411      Populus tremuloides - Viburnum edule: Spiraea betulifolia (17 plots) 412      Populus tremuloides - Viburnum edule: Paxistima myrsinites (10 plots) 420    Populus tremuloides - Rosa nutkana 421      Populus tremuloides - Rosa nutkana: Aralia nudicaulis (14 plots) 422      Populus tremuloides - Rosa nutkana: Arnica cordifolia* (9 plots) 423      Populus tremuloides - Rosa nutkana: Angelica genuflexa* (9 plots) 424      Populus tremuloides - Rosa nutkana: Senecio pseudoaureus * (9 plots) 425      Populus tremuloides - Rosa nutkana: Shepherdia canadensis (15 plots) G3


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