Ancient boreal forests under the environmental instability of the glacial to postglacial transition in the great lakes region (14 000 -11 000 years BP)

Irina P. Panyushkina, Steven W. Leavitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet 20 000 years ago tremendously altered environmental conditions and opened territory to the boreal spruce forest expansion. However, the details of forest colonization during the rapid climate warming and the adaptation of the newly developed stands to short cooling episodes during the warming and degradation of the ice sheet are not known. Preservation of wood from the glacial to postglacial transition offers the opportunity for examination of high-frequency growth variability in response to hemispheric and local forcings on temperature and hydrology. Here we consider growth of spruce at three sites from the interior of Northern America developed at ca. 13 700,12100, and 11300 calibrated years before present (cal years BP), with well-replicated tree-ring chronologies spanning from 116 to 310 years. The data show at least two generations of trees established at each of the sites promoted by short, warm intervals. The tree mortality was variously affected by both cold conditions and the influence of rising water table and sediment burial. The history of these stands indicates breaks in forest colonization following a century (or two) of successful migrations. Interestingly, the thinning of the spruce forest did not seem to open pioneering opportunities for other tree species at those times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1032-1039
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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