ARIO Autoecology synthesis: A guide to the autoecology of selected Boreal and Great Lake-St. Lawrence Forest Flora - 140-802

Description: Autecology is the branch of ecology dealing with the study of the responses and adaptations of individual species or populations to their environment. Several semi-independent syntheses have been conducted for Ontario’s flora including Sims et al. (1990), Bell (1991), Louter et al. (1993), and Bently and Pinto (1994).  A partnership between the University of Guelph, Lakehead University, Devlin Consulting and OMNR has been formed to build upon these initial works. Emphasis will be placed on updating species identified in the request for proposal as a series of independent notes following a common template (Appendix A).  Several gymnosperms (e.g., Taxus canadensis) will also be included.

Autecology guides have been published in several jurisdictions including Ontario, southern Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.  These have proven popular, with print runs distributed as quickly as they became available. Understanding autecology helps resource managers to:

  • predict where species will grow and respond to disturbances,
  • understand which site conditions will repress or promote the growth of a species,
  • reduce use and rate of herbicides in response to public concerns and fiscal restraint,
  • effectively monitor and understand plant response to treatments,
  • reduce the risk of major insect or disease problems,
  • propagate a species for use as a crop, in site reclamation, as a companion crop, or competition control, and
  • contribute to maintaining species resilience, forest biodiversity, and sustainability.

OMNR has realized the value of the information and species ecology chapters were written by Mr. Bell and partners for all 5 provincial silviculture guides (i.e., managing southern Ontario forests, Great Lakes-St. Lawrence conifer forest in Ontario: spruce, fir, birch, and aspen mixedwoods in Ontario’s boreal forest; tolerant hardwood forest in Ontario; and  black spruce, jack pine and aspen on boreal forest ecosites in Ontario).

The updated information acquired through this project will be available in time for future updates of the silviculture guides and best management practices to sustain biodiversity.

The writing team will build upon the earlier research by conducting web and library searches and contacting species experts to fill in species gaps and update existing information. Wayne Bell and Steve Newmaster will write introduction section to floral diversity in Ontario and importance of autecology. The notes on dicots will be completed by Ngaire Eskelin. The monocots will be completed by Maureen Kershaw (Graminaceae) and Dr. Luckai and Claire (Orchidaceae). Dr. Newmaster and Heather Cole will complete the Cryptogams. Wayne Bell, Fred Pinto and Andree Morneault will write an additional section on gymnosperms. Species experts will be asked to review the work.

Members of the team have been involved in synthesizing autecology information starting as early as 1988. The team will build upon this existing information. In addition, unpublished works by Kathy Brosemer on Betulaceae species, Wayne Bell on Orchidaceae, Ngaire Eskelin on Aceraceae and Trilliums, Dr. Luckai on understory dicots and Dr. Newmaster and Heather Cole on cryptogams will also be included. The value of these unpublished works exceeds $75 K.

Wayne Bell, Steve Newmaster and Lisa Buse will review and edit all notes prior to external review. All notes will be subject to an independent external review. Experts have been identified to review the notes. The reviews will be completed following a standardized writing guide that will be prepared and approved by the writing team. This will reduce cost and effort in review, editing, and production stages.


Publication in book format:

Section 1:  Flora diversity in Ontario: Current status, leading factors causing change, protection measures, and future directions
Section 2: Definitions and introduction to species nomenclature; identification; distribution; habitat; reproduction; propagation; growth habit; phenology; response to disturbance; and interactions with other plant species, mammals, birds, insects and diseases
Section 3: Dicots
Section 4: Monocots
Section 5: Gymnosperms
Section 6: Ferns and fern allies
Section 7: Bryophytes

A peer-reviewed book on the state of knowledge of autecology of the flora of Ontario
Presentations at OVMA annual general meetings and regional silvicultural workshops


The Project Team: Nancy Luckai, Maureen Kershaw, F. Wayne Bell, Fred Pinto,Andree Morneault, Carol Ann LaCroix, Bill Towill and Lisa Buse


Status Reports:

Annual Report for Vegetative Management Alternative Program, 2011

Status Report (2009-2010)


For Additional Information Contact:

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