From the Discussion (p.232-233) ... 'Although a general theory of how fire severity affects forest succession through its influence on the depth of the organic soil layer has been developed, the specifics of the overall process have not been quantified. In particular, although there is a general understanding of factors that influence the patterns of fire severity, outside of a few experimental burns (Dyrness and Norum 1983), the spatial and temporal variations of ground-layer biomass burning in black spruce forests are not well known. In addition, relatively few measurements of the effects of fire on patterns of soil temperature and moisture in these ecosystems have been collected (Viereck 1982). Finally, there are very few measurements of the dependence of soil respiration on soil moisture and temperature in Alaskan black spruce forests (Schlentner and Van Cleve 1985; O'Neill et al. 1997; Richter et al., this volume). Increased soil respiration not only reduces the amount of organic matter present in the ground layer but is a very important consideration in nutrient cycling, which, in turn, is important for plant and tree growth.' © 2000 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.