Vegetation and permafrost thaw depth 10 years after a tundra fire in 2002, Seward Peninsula, Alaska
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): K. Narita; K. Harada; K. Saito; Y. Sawada; M. Fukuda; S. Tsuyuzaki
Publication Year: 2015

Cataloging Information

  • bog blueberry
  • bryophytes
  • Eriophorum vaginatum
  • fire case histories
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • grasses
  • lichens
  • plant growth
  • post fire recovery
  • shrubs
  • soil temperature
  • succession
  • tundra
  • tussock cottongrass
  • Vaccinium uliginosum
  • vegetation surveys
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: August 23, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 54282
Tall Timbers Record Number: 31953
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
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.


The recovery of tundra vegetation and the depth of permafrost thaw were observed on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska, the site of a wildfire in 2002. The study compared the vegetation in burned and adjacent unburned tundra from 5 to 10 years post-fire. The effects of the fire on the vegetation varied between species and were spatially variable at the stand scale. The cover of evergreen shrubs, bryophytes, and lichens was still drastically decreased 5 years after the fire and had not recovered even 10 years after the fire. By contrast, the cover of graminoids, especially Eriophorum vaginatum, and of the deciduous shrub Vaccinium uliginosum increased. The depth of permafrost thaw increased, and its spatial pattern was related to vegetation structure; specifically, deeper thaw corresponded to graminoid-rich areas, and shallower thaw corresponded to shrub-rich areas. As the E. vaginatum cover increased, the thaw depth recovered to that of the unburned area, and the spatial variation had disappeared 10 years after the fire. Our results indicate that both the prefire vegetation structure and the differences in the regrowth properties between species play important roles in the early stage of tundra ecosystem recovery after wildfire. Our findings also show that the favorable growing conditions related to deeper thaw do not last long. © 2015 Regents of the University of Colorado.

Online Link(s):
Narita, K., K. Harada, K. Saito, Y. Sawada, M. Fukuda, and S. Tsuyuzaki. 2015. Vegetation and permafrost thaw depth 10 years after a tundra fire in 2002, Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research, v. 47, no. 3, p. 547-559. 10.1657/AAAR0013-031.