• Abies balsamea;
  • Litter;
  • Microsite;
  • Nurse log;
  • Picea glauca;
  • Québec;
  • Regeneration;
  • Succession;
  • Thuja occidentalis
  • Hosie (1972)

Abstract. In order to explain conifer species recruitment in Canada's southeastern boreal forest, we characterized conifer regeneration microsites and determined how these microsites vary in abundance during succession. Microsite abundance was evaluated in deciduous, mixed and coniferous stands along a 234-yr postfire chronosequence. Conifers were most often found in relatively well-illuminated microsites, devoid of litter, especially broad-leaf litter, and with a reduced cover of lower vegetation (< 50 cm tall). Although associated with moss-rich forest floor substrates, Abies balsamea was the most ubiquitously distributed species. Picea glauca and especially Thuja occidentalis seedlings were frequently found on rotten logs. Light measurements did not show differences among seedling species nor between stand types. The percentage cover of broad-leaf litter decreased significantly during succession. Also, rotten logs covered with moss occupied a significantly larger area in the mid-successionnal stands than in early successional deciduous or late successional coniferous stands. The results suggest that the presence of specific forest floor substrate types is a factor explaining low conifer recruitment under deciduous stands, conifer codominance in the mid-successional stage, and delayed Thuja recolonization after fire. Results also suggest that some facilitation mechanism is responsible for the observed directional succession.