Lichen—spruce woodlands occur in the closed-crown forest zone as a divergent type of the spruce—moss forest because of regeneration failure caused by compounded disturbances (fire, insect outbreaks, and logging). From the southern limit of distribution of lichen woodlands (47° 30′ N) to the northern limit of the closed-crown forest zone (52° 40′ N), 53 lichen woodlands were sampled for a detailed dendroecological analysis. Radial, height, and volumetric growth of black spruce (Picea mariana) trees among the woodlands varied significantly according to stand age. Growth rates were similar for all even-aged spruce trees, whereas growth rates of trees < 100 y old were significantly greater than those of trees > 100 y old. No significant differences were found in growth rates of spruces distributed along the latitudinal gradient. Spruce trees were generally small in all the woodlands studied, with only a few trees taller than 12 m. Although spruce budworm may have affected all stands, the timing and intensity of the infestations were not necessarily synchronous among the studied stands. Partial least square response (PLS) functions were calculated to evaluate the impact of climate on tree-rings with latitude. Along the 600-km transect, PLS response functions indicated that growth was strongly influenced by current and previous year climatic conditions, particularly precipitation.
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Vol. 18 • No. 3