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Characterization of the Soil Hydromorphic Conditions in a Paludified Dunefield during the Mid-Holocene Hemlock Decline near Québec City, Québec

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

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

Abstract

The mid-Holocene eastern hemlock [Tsuga canadensis L. (Carr.)] decline has been recently attributed to the activity of insect defoliators. N. Bihiry and L. Filion, Quaternary Research 45,312–320 (1996). In this study, soil hydromorphic conditions were investigated for the period 6800–3200 yr B.P. using micromorphological data from a peat section from a swale in a paludified dunefield in southern Québec. After a short period of plant colonization in shallow pools between 6800 and 6400 yr B.P., mesic conditions predominated in the interdune before the decline (6400–4900 yr B.P.), as evidenced by strong bioturbation and abundance of excrements from the soil fauna. During the decline, a shift from mesic to wet conditions occurred (4900–4100 yr B.P.), although xeric to mesic conditions persisted on dune ridges until at least 4200 yr B.P. Wetness culminated when beaver occupied the site (4100–3750 yr B.P.). Hemlock needles with chewing damage typical of hemlock looper (Lambdina fiscellaria) feeding were identified at levels dated 4900, 4600, and 4200 yr B.P., respectively, implying that the hemlock decline was associated with at least three defoliation events. The ca. 400-yr interval between these events likely represents the time required for this late-sucessional tree species to recover.

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Research Article
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University of Washington

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Characterization of the Soil Hydromorphic Conditions in a Paludified Dunefield during the Mid-Holocene Hemlock Decline near Québec City, Québec
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