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Paths of recovery: landscape variability in forest structure, function, and fuels after the 1988 Yellowstone Fires

Author(s): Monica G. Turner, William H. Romme, Daniel B. Tinker, Daniel C. Donato, Brian J. Harvey
Year Published: 2015

Understanding the rates, trajectories, and spatial variability in succession following severe wildfire is increasingly important for forest managers in western North America and critical for anticipating the resilience or vulnerability of forested landscapes to changing environmental conditions. However, few long-term studies have considered succession following severe, stand-replacing wildfires over large areas. This research focused on succession after the 1988 Yellowstone fires and tested hypotheses within three overarching questions: (1) Are stand structure and function beginning to converge twenty-five years after the Yellowstone Fires, and what mechanisms may contribute to convergence or divergence? (2) Are plant community composition and species richness converging or diverging across gradients in local fire severity, postfire lodgepole pine density, elevation and soil type a quarter-century after the 1988 fires? (3) How do canopy and surface fuels vary across the postfire landscape, and how will the variation in fuels influence potential fire behavior a quarter century postfire? Twenty-five years after the 1988 fires, we resampled permanent plots in lodgepole-pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) forests in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, USA) that burned in the 1988 fires and were distributed widely across the landscape.

Citation: Turner, M.G.; Romme, W.H.; Tinker, D.B.; Donato, D.C.; Harvey, B.J. 2015. Paths of recovery: landscape variability in forest structure, function, and fuels after the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program. JFSP Project No. 11-1-1-7. University of Wisconsin - Madison. 30 p.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Successional Changes, Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Fire Regime, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Recovery after fire, Resilience
Ecosystem(s): Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Aspen woodland
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 13720
FRAMES RCS number: 21908
Record updated: Jul 27, 2018