Postglacial wetland succession, carbon accumulation and forest dynamics on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada




Lacourse, Terri
Beer, Kyle W.
Craig, Kira B.
Canil, Dante

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Quaternary Research


Peatland development and carbon accumulation on the Pacific coast of Canada have received little attention in paleoecological studies, despite wetlands being common landscape features. Here, we present a multi–proxy paleoenvironmental study of an ombrotrophic bog in coastal British Columbia. Following decreases in relative sea level, the wetland was isolated from marine waters by 13,300 cal yr BP. Peat composition, non-pollen palynomorph, and C and N analyses demonstrate terrestrialization from an oligotrophic lake to a marsh by 11,600 cal yr BP, followed by development of a poor fen, and then a drier ombrotrophic bog by 8700 cal yr BP. Maximum carbon accumulation occurred during the early Holocene fen stage, when seasonal differences in insolation were amplified. This highlights the importance of seasonality in constraining peatland carbon sequestration by enhancing productivity during summer and reducing decomposition during winter. Pollen analysis shows that Pinus contorta dominated regional forests by 14,000 cal yr BP. Warm and relatively dry summers in the early Holocene allowed Pseudotsuga menziesii to dominate lowland forests 11,200–7000 cal yr BP. Tsuga heterophylla and P. menziesii formed coniferous forest in the mid- and late Holocene. Tephra matching the mid-Holocene Glacier Peak–Dusty Creek assemblage provides evidence of its most northwesterly occurrence to date.



Peatlands, Terrestrialization, Carbon accumulation, Nitrogen accumulation, Pollen, Non-pollen palynomorphs, Plant macrofossils, Coniferous forest, Glacer Peak tephra, Coastal British Columbia


Lacourse, T. & Beer, K.W. Craig, K.B. & Canil, D.(2019). Postglacial wetland succession, carbon accumulation, and forest dynamics on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, Quaternary Research, 92(1), 232-245.