Investigating the effects of climate on balsam fir (Abies balsamea) regeneration within the Acadian Forest Region

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University of New Brunswick


Balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), one of the most abundant softwood species in eastern Canada, is projected to be adversely affected by climate change. Typically, tree regeneration represents one of the most vulnerable stages to climate-induced stress. A review of climate change effects on the regeneration dynamics of balsam fir showed few detrimental effects of increased temperatures upon balsam fir regeneration but did indicate deleterious effects from decreased water availability. In addition to this review, a field season of sampling seedling density and growth along a climatic gradient throughout the Acadian Forest Region of eastern Canada did not indicate a clear decline under warmer, drier conditions for the species. Seedling density did decline with increasing frost-free period, while growth increased with summer mean precipitation and mean annual temperature. Therefore, projected effects of climate change upon balsam fir may be less severe than projected and occur via reduced competitive ability and higher mortality in overstory trees, rather than regeneration failure.