Implications of land-use and disturbance history on forest composition and dynamics
Acadian forest covers much of Maritime Canada and represents the transition between hardwood and boreal forest. A long history of land clearing for agriculture and timber harvesting has greatly reduced the extent and quality of the Acadian forest, and it is now considered a critically endangered ecosystem. I am leading a collaborative investigation of the impacts of land use changes on dynamic forest processes, tree health, biodiversity and species turnover across a network of 150 forested permanent sample plots within the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve (FBR) in SE New Brunswick. Our research has identified important contributions of disturbance legacies in previously documented age-related shifts in species habitat associations demonstrating important disturbance-related breakdowns in species-environment relationships at the local scale. Similarly, across the FBR, land ownership and use is a strong determinant of the forest composition, richness and forest dynamics, which has important implications for sustainable land use planning within the FBR.Understanding land use and ownership impacts on Acadian forests will help inform management decisions within the Fundy National Park and the FBR.