MASTERS PROJECT IN FOREST ECOLOGY – Susceptibility of protected black ash stands to potential regulation of spring lake water level, northern Quebec: a biodiversity conservation issue

Context and problematic: Extremes in spring flooding have become an issue in northern regions of Canada. Recent data suggest that flood frequency and magnitude may have increased in the last decades after a period of relatively low spring water level. For example, the 2019 floods in northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec is unprecedented. As a result, the lakeside residents of Lake Duparquet would like the governmental authorities to implement a mitigation strategy including regulation of the lake spring water level. The proposed changes will affect both high and low water levels. At the same time, old, rare and protected stands of black ash trees are growing on the floodplains of Lake Duparquet. These stands, reaching the northern distribution limit of the species, are unique with trees more than 250 year old. Lake Duparquet is also one of the rare unregulated water body in the region. The project aims at defining the potential consequences of a change in hydrological regime (low and high water level) on black ash stands located on the floodplain of Lake Duparquet. Fieldwork will take place in northern Quebec and will involve measuring attributes of black ash stands, looking at indicator vegetation and age structure. It will also involve using remote sensing tools for mapping. Could water level regulation lead to the contraction and slow disappearance of these stands or could they be able to maintain themselves and, if so, under which conditions?

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