Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Vascular plant community data for Northwest Territories, Canada

Citation

Baltzer, Jennifer et al. (2022), Vascular plant community data for Northwest Territories, Canada, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.76hdr7sth

Abstract

Climate change is altering disturbance regimes outside of historical norms, which can impact biodiversity by selecting for plants with particular traits. The relative impact of disturbance characteristics on plant traits and community structure may be mediated by environmental gradients. We aimed to understand how wildfire impacted understory plant communities and plant regeneration strategies along gradients of environmental conditions and wildfire characteristics in boreal forests. We established 207 plots (60m2) in recently burned stands and 133 plots in mature stands with no recent fire history in comparable gradients of stand type, site moisture (drainage), and soil organic layer (SOL) depth in two ecozones in Canada’s Northwest Territories. At each plot, we recorded all vascular plant taxa in the understory and measured the regeneration strategy (seeder, resprouter, survivor) in burned plots, along with seedbed conditions (mineral soil and bryophyte cover). Dispersal, longevity, and growth form traits were determined for each taxon. Fire characteristics measured included proportion pre-fire SOL combusted (fire severity), date of burn (fire seasonality), and pre-fire stand age (time following fire). Results showed understory community composition was altered by fire. However, burned and mature stands had similar plant communities in wet sites with deep SOL. In the burned plots, regeneration strategies were determined by fire severity, drainage, and pre- and post-fire SOL depth. Resprouters were more common in wet sites with deeper SOL and lower fire severity, while seeders were associated with drier sites with thinner SOL and greater fire severity. This led to drier burned stands being compositionally different from their mature counterparts and seedbed conditions were important. Our study highlights the importance of environment-wildfire interactions in shaping plant regeneration strategies and patterns of understory plant community structure across landscapes, and the overriding importance of SOL depth and site drainage in mediating fire severity, plant regeneration, and community structure.

 

Methods

207 plots were established with 5, 1 by 1 m quadrats within which vegetation data was recorded one year after fire

Usage Notes

Each data file has a metadata sheet

Funding

Government of the Northwest Territories

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

National Science Foundation, Award: 1542150

NASA Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment, Award: Mack-01

Royal Society of New Zealand

Government of the Northwest Territories

NASA Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment, Award: Mack-01