Mixed-conifer understory response to climate change, nitrogen, and fire
The authors experimentally tested the effects of increasing and decreasing snowpack depth, increasing nitrogen, and prescribed fire on understory fuel diversity and biomass production in a mixed-conifer forest.
The authors found significant variation between treatments and across sites underscoring the difficulty in modeling future climatic effects on ecosystem biodiversity based on limited inputs. However, they did find that increasing nitrogen and snowpack did result in increased shrub biomass at both study sites whereas reduced snowpack resulted in increased herb biomass within shrub-dominated communities. They also found that treatments that increased shrub and herbaceous understory resulted in increased fire intensity. Increases in fire intensity then reduced shrub biomass which the authors suggest is more in line with historic conditions of frequent fire.