Postglacial range expansion and population growth of Picea mariana, Picea glauca and Pinus banksiana in the western interior of Canada

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Abstract

The fossil pollen records from the sediments of thirteen lakes are used to reconstruct the postglacial spread and population expansions of Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P., Picea glauca (Moench) Voss and Pinus banksiana Lamb. across the western interior of Canada. The objective of this study was to examine temporal and spatial patterns in the growth of the populations and to determine if intraspecific and interspecific variations exist across a range of latitudes and elevations. Pollen accumulation rates (PARs) are estimated from pollen grain counts and sedimentation rates throughout the early to mid-Holocene and are used to represent the population level at the time of pollen deposition. Exponential equations are used to calculate population growth rates. Three-dimensional diagrams (time, space, abundance) are constructed to illustrate range expansion and population growth.The rates of population growth varied from south to north for all three species. Pinus banksiana, on average, had slower population growth rates, and its expansion across the region began over 4000 years later and lasted approximately 1000 years longer than the two Picea species. All three tree taxa experienced reduced rates of population growth at northern high elevation sites. These variations are examined in light of the physical and biological environmental conditions which existed during postglacial range expansion and population growth.

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