Centre d'études nordiques Research Station
Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik, Quebec
Canada J0M 1G0


The CEN Boniface River Station is owned and run by the Centre d’études Nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies) whose secretariat is based at Université Laval, Québec, Canada. This station is part of the CEN’s research station network called Qaujisarvik.


The Boniface River Research Station is situated within the forest tundra less than 10 km from the tree limit and some 30 km inland from Hudson Bay (57°45’ N, 76°10’ W).


The landscape around the station is composed of both wooded hills (30 %) and hills dominated by tundra vegetation (70 %). The most protected sites are generally forested except for areas that have been affected by fire and consequently induced an opening in the forest cover. Landscape features of scientific interest are discontinuous permafrost, thermokarst ponds, palsas, the Boniface River, and the treeline.


The Boniface River Research Station was constructed in 1985 by Professor Serge Payette to conduct research on past treeline and tree growth dynamics in the context of Climate Change. It was upgraded in 2010. Presently, the station is comprised of three individual buildings (one with a shower) that serve primarily as laboratories and a kitchen building. These are powered by solar energy and heated with an oil furnace. Onsite there are two zodiac-style boats. Access to the different research sites is primarily by helicopter or by the Boniface River, which is navigable for some 20 km. Dormitory tents and sleeping bags for researchers and students can be provided by the CEN. Typically, between five and twenty people can be found at the research station during the summer season.


Meteorological stations installed within the proximity of the research station have been recording the prevailing conditions at the tree limit, including the thermal contrast (air and soil) between tundra and forest environments, since 1988. In addition, tree growth has been measured with the aid of a dozen electronic dendrometers since the summer of 2005. Extensive data records are available at: www.cen.ulaval.ca/nordicanad or upon request (cen@cen.ulaval.ca). Topics which are studied at the station include the following, but are not exclusive to these: Vegetation dynamics of a sub-arctic topo-sequence and the interaction between climate and forest fires, genetic homogeneity in the ecological heterogeneity of Québec sub-arctic forests in relation to climatic change, black spruce growth as an indicator of Climate Change at the treeline in northern Quebec, origin and dynamics of wooded palsas in the Boniface River region, dwarf birch (Betula glandulosa) densifi cation since 1950, the influence of permafrost on riverine ecosystem dynamics, fire history of the Boniface River region, long black spruce tree-ring chronology, riparian ecosystem dynamics, Holocene evolution of a palsa plateau at the tree limit, and structural dynamics of an ancient spruce lichen woodland at the northern forest limit.


No communities live at or near Boniface River Station. The nearest community is Inukjuak more than 120 km away and on the shores of eastern Hudson Bay.


Beginning in the summer of 2001, supplies for the research station have been delivered primarily by fixed winged aircraft, i.e. Twin Otter, thanks to the construction of a 300 m long airstrip situated on the opposite shore of the research station. Access to the station is by chartered helicopter or Twin Otter, departing from Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik.

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