Ecology of white spruce at the species limit in NWT, Canada

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: climate change, forestry, arctic treeline, white spruce

Principal Investigator: Walker, Xanthe J (1)
Licence Number: 14571
Organization: Department of Geography, University of British Columbia
Licenced Year(s): 2009 2008
Issued: Jul 18, 2009
Project Team: Dr. Greg Henry (Supervisor, University of British Columbia), Justin Hoover (Field Assistant, University of British Columbia)

Objective(s): The overall objective of this research is to determine the impact of climate change on the ecological patterns and processes of white spruce trees within the forest-tundra transition zone in the Tuktoyaktuk region of the Northwest Territories.

Project Description: The overall objective of this research is to determine the impact of climate change on the ecological patterns and processes of white spruce trees within the forest-tundra transition zone in the Tuktoyaktuk region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. White spruce reproduction, establishment, and growth will be assessed to determine how these parameters may have changed since they were last measured in the early 1990s and how they may respond to variations in climate along the south to north forest-tundra gradient.

In 1993, a transect was established in the Tuktoyaktuk region, that spans from the northern forest-tundra to the tree islands. In September 2008 sites along this transect were relocated and re-examined. In August 2009 the researchers plan on revisiting theses sites to continue the investigation of them. They will camp near the sites for a maximum of three days and walk to them.
The following measurements and collections will be made at each site:
-Seed collections will be made from white spruce at each site and seed germination trials will be conducted to test viability
-Tree cores will be taken from the largest individuals within each site to determine the approximate year of establishment
-Tree height, diameter at breast height, and diameter at base will be measured for each individual in order to calculate the density and volume of spruce trees within each site
-Soil samples will be collected to be analyzed for total carbon, total nitrogen, and pH
-The vegetation composition surrounding each individual tree will be determined via assessing species composition and abundance

The possibility exists for a local student/research technician to participate in this field research.

This project is part of a larger project on treeline dynamics across Canada (PPS Arctic Canada), funded by the federal government's International Polar Year (IPY) program. Results of the field season will be available on the PPSArctic Canada web site. The researchers will also contribute to a plain language PPS Arctic poster which will be translated and sent to communities throughout the North. In addition, they hope to participate in the presentation series at ARI in the following year, and at the Science in a Changing North conference held each year in Yellowknife. Copies of all publications from the research will be provided to the ARI library.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 21 to September 5, 2009, along the vegetation and climate gradient between the closed sub-arctic forest near Inuvik to the Low Arctic tundra near Tuktoyaktuk.
A map with the specific locations is available from the researchers or from the licencing office at ARI. The coordinates of sites are as follows:
R1 - 69'28'37.8 N 134'18'23.2 W
R3 - 69'38'30.2 N 134'02'59.4 W
T21 - 69'19'16.9 N 132'52'43.5 W
T22 - 69'19'21.2 N 133'53'09.2 W
T1 - 69'23'11.6 N 133'29'25.4 W
T3 - 69'19'16.5 N 132'49'07.7 W
T5 - 69'11'05.2 N 133'01'25.1 W
T6 - 69'29'00.1 N 132'11'21.8 W
T7 - approximate: 69°15’N 131°50’W
T8 - approximate: 69°11’N 131°27’W
T9 - approximate: 69°06’N 130°59’W
T10 - approxiamte: 68°17’N 133°15’W
T11 - approximate: 69°17’N 132°52’W
T12 - approximate: 69°05’N 133°16’W