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Fire history and fire-climate interactions in high elevation whitebark pine dominated forest

Author(s): Alan H. Taylor, Catherine Airey Lauvaux
Year Published: 2017

The objectives of this study were to identify whitebark pine fire-climate interactions, and tree establishment and mortality patterns in a landscape context. Specific objectives were to : 1) develop a whitebark pine tree-ring chronology to date fire scar samples and reconstruct climate from tree rings; 2) identify fire climate relationships for white bark pine forests; and 3) determine how fire regimes in whitebark pine forests related to lower elevation forest types (Douglas-fir and subalpine fir).
Our fire history shows fires occurred less frequently than in forests at lower elevations dominated by Douglas fir (15 years vs 66 years). Variability in time between fires recorded in fire scarred trees scars was high (ranging from 5 to 242 years). Most fires in whitebark pine were small in size and occurred during dry years, likely carried by grassy fuels. However, fire did connect lower elevation forests to whitebark forest. Widespread fires recorded in the lower elevation Douglas fir forest burned through the whitebark pine stands during especially dry years. 

Citation: Taylor, Alan H.; Lauvaux, Catherine Airey. 2017. Fire history and fire-climate interactions in high elevation whitebark pine dominated forest. Joint Fire Science GRIN Project 424-12 69HM. State College, PA: Penn State University. 19p.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Fire History, Frequency, Recovery after fire
Ecosystem(s): Alpine forest/krummholz, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 15767
Record updated: Apr 11, 2018