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White pine (Pinus strobus) is a coniferous species that generally establishes in well-drained mesic soil. Occasionally, it can also be found in ombrotrophic peatlands, particularly in the St. Lawrence Lowlands physiographic region of Quebec. In these peatlands, white pine seems to show excellent and surprising growth, in both height and diameter. The present study is part of a larger research project on the afforestation of ombrotrophic peatlands, a process that is particularly pronounced in the 20th century in southern Quebec.
The main objectives of this master’s thesis project are:
i) to determine the period (or periods) during which white pine established in several ombrotrophic peatlands, and identify the factors that favored this establishment;
ii) to characterize the radial growth of white pine in a peatland environment and compare it with that of individuals growing on the periphery on mesic soil;
iii) to determine the factors that controlled the growth of white pine in these peatlands.
Five peatlands will be studied. For each site, 20 white pines will be sampled for dendrochronological analysis in order to determine their age and characterize their growth rate. The same process will be conducted with 20 other individuals growing on the periphery of the peatlands, in mesic soil. Two peat monoliths will be collected from the peatlands for macrofossil analysis. The purpose is to determine up to what depth in the organic deposits white pine remains (for ex. needles, seeds) are present. Finally, the results of the dendrochronological and paleoecological analyses will be compared with meteorological data in order to determine whether climate played a role in white pine dynamics in the peatlands (calculation of response functions and climatic anomalies).