Ecological - Second Order
The understory base in pinyon-juniper woodlands has been depleted by past abuse and suppression by the tree overstory. Wise use of fire provides a means of reestablishing understory species in the successional cycle. Postfire survival of understory plants depends upon physical placement of the plant in the community as well as the physiological characteristics of the species. Understory species demonstrate an array of methods for establishing themselves in postfire successional communities. Succession follows the "initial floristics" successional model where most species are present at the time of disturbance. Plant succession has a strong spatial component. Predicting postfire response is difficult because of several chance factors, but qualitative prediction is possible when we consider aspect, elevation, and the known response of individual species in the preburn community.