UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Classification of trembling aspen ecosystems in British Columbia 2008

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Classification of Trembling Aspen Ecosystems in British Columbia Trembling aspen is one of the most common tree species in the boreal and temperate zones of North America. It occurs across all of non-arctic Alaska and Canada, and the northern continental USA and reaches south to the west coast of Mexico. In British Columbia (BC), aspen grows in all forested biogeoclimatic zones, except the MH zone. It is 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 the province, yet the full ecological value of aspen in the boreal forest is not yet fully understood.  The classic successional sequence of a boreal forest begins the removal or disturbance of a coniferous stand by wildfire and the establishment of a broad-leaved stand. Over time the boreal conifers, such as white and black spruce, re-establish and remain until the next stand-disturbing event. The increasing presence of seral aspen stands across the landscape and the increasing demand for timber has motivated forest managers to search for ways to utilize the aspen timber resource as well as establish and grow coniferous trees in association with the aspen.  An improved knowledge of aspen ecology, ecosystems, and stand productivity and dynamics is needed to improve management of these ecosystems, which presupposes their classification. There have been only a few ecological studies carried out in aspen ecosystems in BC. These studies included local classification of aspen ecosystems, aspen site index modeling and prediction from environmental factors, relationships between aspen site index and soil properties, and humus form characterization. While this information has added to our knowledge base, many of these studies have been carried out locally. In order to integrate this information and provide a complimentary tool for further studies of aspen ecosystems and their comparison with other studies across North America, we have developed a regional vegetation classification. The classification, which follows the methods of biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification system, is based on 186 samples of aspen-dominated stands across the BWBS, SBS, SBPS, IDF, MS, and ICH zones Scientia  Silvica Extension Series, Number 27, 2001 Map showing the range of trembling aspen in British Columbia and the distribution of sample plots. Distribution frequency Sample plots infrequent frequent very frequent isolated stand plot location number 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)(5) (2) (2) of BC. Our aim was to organize aspen communities into groups that show the greatest number of vegetation and vegetation-environment relationships, are easily retained in memory, and are easily conveyed through instruction. However, we do not claim that we have accounted for all the many different aspen community; thus the classification presented is but the first approximation. Other aspects of aspen growth and boreal ecology are presented in the following Scientia Silvica Extension Series (SSES): height growth and site index models (SSES No. 2 and SSES No. 45), site index - site quality relationships (SSES No. 43), comparison of understory plant diversity between black spruce and trembling aspen ecosystems (SSES No. 32), and comparison of humus form and soil nutrients between of black spruce and trembling aspen ecosystems (SSES No. 31). Reference Krestov, P.V., K. Klinka, C. Chourmouzis, and C. Hanel. 2000. Classification of trembling aspen ecosystems in  British Columbia. Forest Sciences Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. 112 pp. Ordering Information This report is available in full colour or black-and-white printed versions or in electronic format on the Scientia Silvica CD-ROM. Order information is available on www.forestry.ubc.ca/klinka or from Karel Klinka (klinka@interchange.ubc.ca) Scientia Silvica  is published by the Forest Sciences Department, The University of British Columbia, ISSN 1209-952X Editor: Karel Klinka (klinka@interchange.ubc.ca) Production and design: Christine Chourmouzis (chourmou@interchange.ubc.ca) Financial support: Site Productivity Working Group, BC Ministry of Forests For more information contact: Karel Klinka Copies 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 1Z4 VP VD MD SD(f) F(f) M(f) VM(f) W(f) P M R VR Soil nutrient regime So il m oi st ur e re gi m e 223 Lathyrus – Actaea BWBSdk subzone BWBSmw subzone SBS zone SBPS zone grasslands, shrubs, and/or stunted tree  black/white spruce coniferous communities > 50% 20 - 50% < 20% Zone/subzone Distribution of plots according to zone/subzone 113 Mertensia – Petasites210 Ledum 221 Lathyrus – Hedysarum 222 Lathyrus – typic 112 Mertensia – Arnica 111 Mertensia – Festuca VP VD MD SD(f) F(f) M(f) VM(f) W(f) P M R VR Soil nutrient regime So il m oi st ur e re gi m e Zone/subzone Distribution of plots according to zone/subzone 425 Rosa – Shepherdia IDF zone MS zone ICH zone SBS zone SBPS zone white/black spruce coniferous communities 422 Rosa – Arnica 424 Rosa – Senecio 423 Rosa – Angelica 310 Thalictrum 421 Rosa – Aralia 412 Viburnum – Paxistima > 50% 20 - 50% < 20% 411 Viburnum – Spirea BWBSdk subzone Edatopic grid showing the generalized relationship of vegetation units to soil nutrient and moisture conditions in the BWBS zone. Edatopic grid showing the generalized relationship of vegetation units to soil nutrient and moisture conditions in the IDF, MS, ICH,SBS and SBPS zones. Synopsis of delineated vegetation units in trembling aspen ecosystems. Numerical codes indicate position 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) 

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