Recovery of productivity and species diversity in Tussock tundra following disturbance
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Milan C. Vavrek; Ned Fetcher; James B. McGraw; Gaius R. Shaver; F. Stuart Chapin III; Brian Bovard
Publication Year: 1999

Cataloging Information

  • Alnus crispa
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Betula nana
  • biomass
  • Colorado
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • Petasites frigidus
  • post fire recovery
  • regeneration
  • seedlings
  • shrubs
  • site treatments
  • species diversity
  • species diversity (plants)
  • statistical analysis
  • tundra
  • vascular plants
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: April 15, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 44882
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20317
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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.


Tundra ecosystems appear to recover slowly from disturbance, but little long-term data concerning plant diversity has been available. We examined recovery of tundra vegetation in Alaska, U.S.A., 23 yr after fire and 24 yr after bulldozing. Primary productivity, depth of thaw, and vascular plant diversity were compared between disturbed and undisturbed tundra to determine whether recovery was complete. Productivity, species richness, and diversity did not differ between burned and unburned plots. Depth of thaw, however, remained greater in burned relative to unburned plots. In contrast, depth of thaw was the only characteristic that did not differ between bulldozed and control plots. Productivity and species richness were greater in bulldozed plots, but diversity was less than control plots. The differences between the two disturbances suggest that, ultimately, recovery depends more on the impact of disturbance on vegetation than changes in the abiotic environment. Vegetative propagules persisted in the soil after fire, but not bulldozing. Therefore, recolonization after fire included plants from the seed bank and vegetative propagules. Vegetation on bladed plots was dominated only by seed bank species. Thus, more than two decades after disturbance, recovery of tundra vegetation appeared to be a function of the nature of the disturbance. © 1999 Regents of the University of Colorado.

Vavrek, M. C., N. Fetcher, J. B. McGraw, G. R. Shaver, F. S. Chapin, and B. Bovard. 1999. Recovery of productivity and species diversity in Tussock tundra following disturbance. Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research, v. 31, no. 3, p. 254-258.