White spruce stringers in a fire-patterned landscape in interior Alaska
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): William A. Quirk; Dwane J. Sykes
Editor(s): Charles W. Slaughter; Richard J. Barney; George M. Hansen
Publication Year: 1971

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • Alnus crispa
  • Betula
  • coniferous forests
  • dendrochronology
  • diameter classes
  • fire exclusion
  • fire frequency
  • fire injuries (plants)
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • flammability
  • forest management
  • interior Alaska
  • moisture
  • mortality
  • mosaic
  • Picea glauca
  • Picea mariana
  • population density
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Salix
  • seed germination
  • size classes
  • sloping terrain
  • soil moisture
  • soil temperature
  • stand characteristics
  • statistical analysis
  • temperature
  • understory vegetation
  • watersheds
  • wildfires
  • wind
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 22, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 45805
Tall Timbers Record Number: 21401
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.32/2:F54 1971
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.


In a south-facing subbasin of Caribou-Poker Creek Research Watershed near Fairbanks, several mature white spruce stringers, apparent relics of extensive stands that have escaped fires, were studied.Tree-ring investigations show that the mature spruce stringers have remained fire-free for at least 200 years, whereas the adjacent areas show evidence of burning every 40 to 60 years. The tree patterns, composition, and density of the spruce stringers are quite homogeneous, but those of the adjacent areas of young birch-spruce show large variations both within the same area and among different areas. The previously burned areas indicate a long-term cycling effect (40 to 60 years) which seems to maintain or perpetuate a birch-spruce community. The stringers are associated with a slight depression in microrelief. Soil temperature at the 1-inch depth showed the previously burned site was a maximum of 7ยบ F. warmer than the stringer site during summer 1970. Although the summer of 1970 was exceedingly wet and overcast, moisture conditions on the forest floor of the stringers were much higher than in the adjacent areas. As determined by Colman blocks, the soil moisture percent by volume of the surface horizon in the stringer site averaged 61.5 percent for summer 1970; the previously burned area averaged 40.2 percent during the same period. The higher soil moisture content of the stringers, along with possible shielding of these protected areas from winds during fire conditions, would seem to be significant factors in keeping the spruce stringers fire-free.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (18.3 MB; pdf)
Quirk, W. A., and D. J. Sykes. 1971. White spruce stringers in a fire-patterned landscape in interior Alaska, in Slaughter, C. W., Barney, R. J., and Hansen, G. M., Fire in the northern environment -- a symposium: proceedings. Fairbanks, AK. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station,Portland, OR. p. 179-197,