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Vegetation and history of the sphagnum bogs of the Tofino area, Vancouver Island Wade, Leslie Keith

Abstract

The Sphagnum bogs of the Tofino-Ucluelet area of the western coast of Vancouver Island were studied from vegetational, edaphic, and historical aspects. An integrated approach to these three aspects was attempted in order to give in a relatively limited time as complete a picture as possible of the bog ecosystem. The bog vegetation was studied on 110 sample plots using analytical and synthetic methods of the Zurich-Montpellier school of phytosociology. Ten different vegetation types were described and characterized, nine belonging to the bog ecosystem and one to the surrounding scrub forest. The nine bog vegetation types consist of five distinct associations and one association composed of five variants. The vegetation types studied are summarized below, in order of increasing floristic complexity. Low moor bog associations: 1. Caricetura pluriflorae (Carex plurlflora association) 2. Scirpeto-Sphagnetum mendoclnl (Sclrpus caespitosus - Sphagnum mendocinum association) 3. Oxycocceto-Sphagnetum papillosi (Oxycoccus quadripetalus - Sphagnum papillosum association) High moor bog association: 4. Ledeto-Sphagnetum caplllacei (Ledum groenlandicum - Sphagnum capillaceum association) Peripheral bog associations: (Bog-forest transition) 5. Pineto-Sphagnetum capillacei (Pinus contorta - Sphagnum capillaceum association) a. Pineto-Sphagnetum capillacei sphagnosum papillosi (Pinus contorta hummock variant) b. Pineto-Sphagnetum capillacei myricosum galis (Myrica gale variant) c. Pineto-Sphagnetum capillacei chamaecyparosum nootkatensis (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis variant) Secondary succession variants established after fire: d. Pineto-Sphagnetum capillacei vacciniosum vitis-idaeae (Vaccinium vltis-idaea variant) e. Pineto-Sphagnetum capillacei vacciniosum parvifolii (Vaccinium parvifollum variant) Scrub forest association surrounding bogs: 6. Pineto-Chamaecypareto-Sphagnetum recurvi (Pinus contorta - Chamaecyparis nootkatensis - Sphagnum fecurvum association) (Bog forest) Edaphic considerations were limited to the analysis of soils from representative sample plots of each association and variant. Soils were analyzed for available cations, including Ca⁺⁺, Mg⁺⁺, Na⁺, K⁺, adsorbed phosphate, total nitrogen, cation exchange capacity, percent base saturation pH, and soil moisture. The results of the soil analyses were wherever possible correlated with trends in the development of plant associations. Climatic factors were regarded as constant over so limited an area as the one under study. Historical considerations included a pollen analysis from a representative core in the center of the major study bog, and a radiocarbon dating to determine the age of a representative bog. The results of the pollen analysis appeared to confirm previous ideas that the bog did not develop from a lake, but rather it developed from a wet seepage forest habitat. The radiocarbon dating indicated the age of the bog at only 390± 90 years B.P., thus explaining partially the apparent very juvenile phase of the bogs of the area. The general hypothesis is suggested that the distribution of the bog plant associations is primarily dependent upon a complex of environmental factors that are dependent upon topography.

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