Postfire population dynamics of a fire-dependent cypress
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Teresa J. Brennan; Jon E. Keeley
Publication Year: 2019

Cataloging Information

  • closed-cone cypress
  • fire frequency
  • Hesperocyparis forbesii
  • immaturity risk
  • Mexico
  • population dynamics
  • Tecate cypress
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 13, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 58036


Tecate cypress (Hesperocyparis forbesii) is a rare species restricted to four metapopulations in southern California, USA and a few isolated populations in northern Baja California, Mexico. It is a closed-cone, fire-dependent tree of conservation concern due to an increase in human-caused wildfires that have shortened the interval between fires in many of their populations. In 2003, the Mine/Otay Fire burned 70% of the Tecate cypress on Otay Mountain in San Diego County, California providing an opportunity to evaluate the immaturity risk of this species and to examine its recruitment, survivorship, and reproductive maturity over a 14-year period from 2004 to 2017. Sixteen sites were established in burned stands of Tecate cypress with prefire ages that ranged from 7 to 53 years old. After 14 years, the overall density of Tecate cypress was still higher than before the fire, however, the areal extent of the species decreased due to the loss of locations where either there was low cone production or fire intensity was too high. The immaturity risk for this species, while a function of prefire stand age, is confounded by other factors including the reproductive capacities of trees based on their density and size and the climatic variables affecting their growth over time. The future management of Tecate cypress and other fire-dependent species requires a knowledge of all factors impacting their immaturity risk, as well as an understanding of the potential fire-climate interactions that may impact their persistence in a future of climate change and altered fire regimes.

Online Link(s):
Brennan, Teresa J.; Keeley, Jon E. 2019. Postfire population dynamics of a fire-dependent cypress. Plant Ecology 220(6):605-617.