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Holocene Vegetation Dynamics of Anticosti Island, Québec, and Consequences of Remoteness on Ecological Succession

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Martin Lavoie
Affiliation:
Centre d'études nordiques and Département de géographie, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec, G1K 7P4, Canada
Louise Filion
Affiliation:
Centre d'études nordiques and Département de géographie, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec, G1K 7P4, Canada

Abstract

The postglacial vegetation history of Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Québec, was reconstructed from pollen analysis of three sites, providing the first paleoecological data for the island. The earliest plant communities (8550–7770 14C yr B.P.; 9500–8500 cal yr B.P.) were characterized by a high representation of green alder (Alnus crispa), indicating an open environment with sparse spruce (Picea). Between 7770 and 3700 14C yr B.P. (8500–4000 cal yr B.P.), the island was colonized by mixed deciduous and coniferous forests dominated by paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and spruce. A major increase in the abundance of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) occurred ca. 3700 14C yr B.P. (4000 cal yr B.P.), indicating development of the closed fir–spruce forests as they exist today. The island's remoteness from continental seed plant sources influenced plant colonization, afforestation, and ecological succession. The Gulf of St. Lawrence slowed plant migration, and tree species had to spread from the Gaspé Peninsula. Repeated drops in fir pollen percentages during the last 4,000 years may reflect the activity of defoliating insects.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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