We examined spatial patterns of post-fire regenerating conifers in a Colorado, USA, dry conifer forest 11–12 years following the reintroduction of mixed-severity fire. We mapped and measured all post-fire regenerating conifers, as well as all other post-fire regenerating trees and all residual (i.e., surviving) trees, in three 4-ha plots following the 2002 Hayman Fire. Residual tree density ranged from 167 to 197 trees ha−1 (TPH), and these trees were clustered at distances up to 30 m. Post-fire regenerating conifers, which ranged in density from 241 to 1036 TPH, were also clustered at distances up to at least 30 m. Moreover, residual tree locations drove post-fire regenerating conifer locations, with the two showing a pattern of repulsion. Topography and post-fire sprouting tree species locations further drove post-fire conifer regeneration locations. These results provide a foundation for anticipating how the reintroduction of mixed-severity fire may affect long-term forest structure, and also yield insights into how historical mixed-severity fire may have regulated the spatially heterogeneous conditions commonly described for pre-settlement dry conifer forests of Colorado and elsewhere.
Malone, Sparkle L.; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Battaglia, Michael A.; Chambers, Marin E.; Iniguez, Jose M.; Sieg, Carolyn H. 2018. Mixed-severity fire fosters heterogeneous spatial patterns of conifer regeneration in a dry conifer forest. Forests 9(1):45.