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 Fire and Ecosystem Effects Interactions

How do fire frequency, rotation, and return interval relate to tree mortality, survivorship, and turnover?

Low-severity fire increases tree defense against bark beetle attacks

The authors found that frequent, low-severity fire events correlate with increased resin duct defenses in ponderosa pine, which increases protection against bark beetle infestation provided the trees suffer only minor injury. This resin production decreases during long fire-free periods.

Citation:
Hood, Sharon M.; Sala, Anna; Heyerdahl, Emily K.; Boutin, Marion. 2015. Low-severity fire increases tree defense against bark beetle attacks. Ecology 96(7):1846-1855.

Simulating post-wildfire forest trajectories under alternative climate and management scenarios

Adding a prescribed fire management regime ranging from 5-20 years to the Climate-FVS simulations resulted in forest conditions remaining with the historical range through the 100 year study time period under all climate scenarios but the A2 emissions scenario.

Citation:
Tarancón, Alicia Azpeleta; Fulé, Peter Z.; Shive, Kristen L.; Sieg, Carolyn Hull; Sánchez Meador, Andrew; Strom, Barbara A. 2014. Simulating post-wildfire forest trajectories under alternative climate and management scenarios. Ecological Applications 24(7):1626-1637.

Widespread increase of tree mortality rates in the western United States

Overall, the authors found that fire and fire exclusion is unlikely responsible for the change in mortality rates in the coniferous western forests of the western U.S. and British Colombia, Canada. Instead, the authors suggest that warming and subsequent hydroclimate changes is directly responsible for the increased mortality rate.

Citation:
van Mantgem, Phillip J.; Stephenson, Nathan L.; Byrne, John C.; Daniels, Lori D.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Fulé, Peter Z.; Harmon, Mark E.; Larson, Andrew J.; Smith, Jeremy M.; Taylor, Alan H.; Veblen, Thomas T. 2009. Widespread increase of tree mortality rates in the western United States. Science 323(5913):521-524.

Long-term effects of a summer fire on desert grassland plant demographics in New Mexico

Native grassland plant species showed a wide variety of responses to the summer prescribed fire; however, most of the 14 species studies were fire tolerant and either survived the fire or quickly resprouted post-fire within 10-12 years. Exceptions, such as black grama grass, chollas, snakeweed, and fourwing saltbush were highly susceptible to fire and exhibited both high mortality and slow regeneration rates.

Citation:
Parmenter, Robert R. 2008. Long-term effects of a summer fire on desert grassland plant demographics in New Mexico. Rangeland Ecology & Management 61(2):156-168.

Climate effects on fire regimes and tree recruitment in Black Hills ponderosa pine forests

Episodes of synchronous tree recruitment and growth were highly associated with periods of increased moisture. These pluvial periods limited fire frequency and likely contributed to the increased establishment and survivorship of seedlings. The authors propose that variations in fire frequency and timing were more important in shaping forest structure than variations in fire severity.

Citation:
Brown, Peter M. 2006. Climate effects on fire regimes and tree recruitment in Black Hills ponderosa pine forests. Ecology 87(10):2500-2510.

Climate and disturbance forcing of episodic tree recruitment in a southwestern ponderosa pine landscape

The authors suggest that even-aged cohorts of ponderosa pine are not the result of severe crown fire, but long fire-free intervals that allowed seedlings to survive long enough to resist fire-induced mortality.

Citation:
Brown, Peter M.; Wu, Rosalind. 2005. Climate and disturbance forcing of episodic tree recruitment in a southwestern ponderosa pine landscape. Ecology 86(11):3030-3038.

Pines versus oaks: effects of fire on the composition of Madrean forests in Arizona

Pine and oak have different strategies for dealing with frequent fire. The pine species in this study (Pinus engelmannii and P. leiophylla) are fire resistant while the oak species (Q. hypoleucoides) resprouts after top-kill by fire.
Historically, frequent fires led to abundant seedling recruitment of both pine and oak species, but low survival into maturity. Fire suppression starting in the early 1900’s led to low levels of seedling recruitment, but allowed young trees to mature without disturbance for long periods of time.

Citation:
Barton, Andrew M. 1999. Pines versus oaks: effects of fire on the composition of Madrean forests in Arizona. Forest Ecology and Management 120(1-3):143-156.