Woody plant encroachment is a widespread phenomenon affecting treeless or sparsely treed habitats. We aimed to determine the extent and timing of tree and shrub encroachment into rock barrens of eastern Ontario over the last century, and to assess implications for their ongoing management.
Queen's University Biological Station in the Frontenac Arch ecoregion.
We quantified the extent of change in woody vegetation in 290 rock barrens using aerial photography from 1925, 1965, and 2008. Composition and structure of woody plant communities in 10 barrens was subsequently quantified in the field using plot-based sampling. Cores or cross-sections were obtained from individuals >1.5 m height and dendrochronological techniques were used to determine their age and identify temporal patterns of any woody encroachment.