The northern inland temperate rainforest of british columbia: Old forests with a young history?

Daniel G. Gavin, Feng Sheng Hu, Ian R. Walker, Karlyn Westover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The inland temperate rainforest (ITR) in east-central British Columbia is marked by superlative examples of old-growth cedar-hemlock forest. How long has this old-growth forest structure been a major component of this landscape? What is the biological and conservation significance of the history of this forest type? Here we present paleoecological evidence from a study in the Robson Valley of the Upper Fraser River. Sediment cores from Gerry Lake and Redmountain Lake show that western hemlock and western redcedar increased in abundance only within the last 2000 years. Thus, the old-growth forests of the northern ITR may have been present for only a few generations of trees. It is even possible, based on our preliminary evidence, that the oldest western redcedar in these stands may be the first colonizing individuals at these sites. Further paleoecological studies, including a combination of stand-age structure and pollen analysis from small lakes and forest hollows, are needed in order to understand the historical significance of these stands. A recent establishment of the ITR has implications for understanding the assembly of the modern diverse biota of the region as well as how the biota will respond to future climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalNorthwest Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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