Summary: Late Holocene deforestation of a tree line site: estimation of pre-fire
vegetation composition and black spruce cover using soil charcoal
Hugo Asselin and Serge Payette
Asselin, H. and Payette, S. 2005. Late Holocene deforestation of a tree line site:
estimation of pre-fire vegetation composition and black spruce cover using soil
charcoal. Á/ Ecography 28: 801Á/805.
Anatomical identification of soil charcoal fragments was used to reconstruct the pre-
fire vegetation composition of a tree line site that burned ca 930 cal. AD in northern
Que´bec, Canada. Soil charcoal was also used as a proxy to estimate black spruce Picea
mariana palaeo-cover. The site (a low-elevated hilltop) is presently devoid of spruce
trees and dominated by dwarf birch Betula glandulosa, lichens, ericaceous shrubs
(Ledum decumbens, Vaccinium vitis-idaea) and sedges. In contrast, black spruce
dominated before the fire with an understory of Empetrum nigrum and Vaccinium
vitis-idaea. Pre-fire black spruce cover was estimated at 32%, giving an indication of the
potential for warming-induced natural reforestation of the forest-tundra.
H. Asselin (email@example.com) and S. Payette, Centre d'e´tudes nordiques, Univ.
Laval, Que´bec, Canada G1K 7P4, (present address of H. A.: Univ. du Que´bec en Abitibi-
Te´miscamingue, 445, Boul. de l'Univ., Rouyn-Noranda, Que´bec, Canada J9X 5E4).
The circumboreal forest-tundra biome is characterised
by intermingled patches of forest and tundra. In north-