Fire regimes of western larch - lodgepole pine forests in Glacier National Park, Montana
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Stephen W. Barrett; Stephen F. Arno; Carl H. Key
Publication Year: 1991

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • age-class analysis
  • biogeography
  • catastrophic fires
  • climatology
  • coniferous forests
  • cover type
  • dendrochronology
  • distribution
  • drought
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire frequency
  • fire regimes
  • fire scar analysis
  • fire spread
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • Glacier National Park
  • heavy fuels
  • Larix occidentalis
  • lodgepole pine
  • master fire chronology
  • mixed-severity fire regime
  • moisture
  • Montana
  • Montana
  • mosaic
  • mountains
  • national parks
  • Picea engelmannii
  • pine forests
  • Pinus contorta
  • precipitation
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • sloping terrain
  • stand-replacing fire
  • succession
  • Thuja plicata
  • topography
  • tree succession
  • Tsuga heterophylla
  • western larch
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 19827
Tall Timbers Record Number: 60
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-C
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


We conducted a detailed investigation of fire frequencies, patterns of fire spread, and the effects of fire on tree succession in the western larch - lodgepole pine (Larix occidentalis - Pinus contorta var. latifolia) forests west of the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana. Master fire chronologies for 1650 to the present were constructed based on tree fire scars and fire-initiated age-classes. Two kinds of primeval fire regimes were identified: (i) a mixed-severity regime ranging from nonlethal underburns to stand-replacing fires at mean intervals of 25-75 years and (ii) a regime of infrequent stand-replacing fires at mean intervals of 140-340 years. The former regime is characteristic of the North Fork Flathead valley and appears to be linked to a relatively dry climate and gentler topography compared with the McDonald Creek - Apgar Mountains and Middle Fork Flathead areas, where the latter fire regime predominates. Fire frequency in the entire North Fork study area was 20 fire years per century prior to 1935 and 2 per century after 1935. In the other two study areas it was 3-5 per century both before and after 1935. We suggest that fire suppression has altered the primeval fire regime in the North Fork, but not in the central and southern areas.

Online Link(s):
Barrett, Stephen W.; Arno, Stephen F.; Key, Carl H. 1991. Fire regimes of western larch - lodgepole pine forests in Glacier National Park, Montana. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 21(12):1711-1720.