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Changes in forest structure of a mixed conifer forest, southwestern Colorado, USA

Peter Z. Fulé, Julie E. Korb, Rosalind Wu


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

The authors reconstructed the historical fire regime and stand structure of a mixed-conifer forest in southwestern Colorado to determine how stand structure and composition have changed over time.

Publication findings:

The authors found an abrupt cessation of fire after 1868, concurrent with Euro-American settlement, although they also found fire quiescent-periods around 1685 to 1735 and again from 1824 to 1861 related to increased moisture patterns. At the current study site, shade tolerant species, such as white fire and Douglas-fir dominated the understory and were regenerating most abundantly, however, during the historic periods of frequent fire, ponderosa pine dominated the stand until fire ceased in the region. They also found an increase in fire area burned in the mixed-conifer stand when dry years were preceded by one or two wet years resulting in an accumulation of fuels.

Climate and Fire Linkages

The authors found an increase in fire area burned in the mixed-conifer stand when dry years were preceded by one or two wet years resulting in an accumulation of fuels.

Fire and Ecosystem Effects Linkages

The authors found an abrupt cessation of fire after 1868, concurrent with Euro-American settlement, although they also found fire quiescent-periods around 1685 to 1735 and again from 1824 to 1861 related to increased moisture patterns. At the current study site, shade tolerant species, such as white fire and Douglas-fir dominated the understory and were regenerating most abundantly, however, during the historic periods of frequent fire, ponderosa pine dominated the stand until fire ceased in the region.

The authors found an abrupt cessation of fire after 1868, concurrent with Euro-American settlement, although they also found fire quiescent-periods around 1685 to 1735 and again from 1824 to 1861 related to increased moisture patterns. At the current study site, shade tolerant species, such as white fire and Douglas-fir dominated the understory and were regenerating most abundantly, however, during the historic periods of frequent fire, ponderosa pine dominated the stand until fire ceased in the region.