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The survival of Pinus ponderosa saplings subjected to increasing levels of fire behavior and impacts on post-fire growth

Author(s): Wade D. Steady, Raquel Partelli Feltrin, Daniel M. Johnson, Aaron M. Sparks, Crystal A. Kolden, Alan F. Talhelm, James A. Lutz, Luigi Boschetti, Andrew T. Hudak, Andrew S. Nelson, Alistair M. S. Smith
Year Published: 2019

Improved predictions of tree species mortality and growth metrics following fires are important to assess fire impacts on forest succession, and ultimately forest growth and yield. Recent studies have shown that North American conifers exhibit a 'toxicological dose-response' relationship between fire behavior and the resultant mortality or recovery of the trees. Prior studies have not been conclusive due to potential pseudo-replication in the experimental design and time-limited observations. We explored whether dose-response relationships are observed in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) saplings exposed to surface fires of increasing fire behavior (as quantified by Fire Radiative Energy - FRE). We confirmed equivalent dose-response relationships to the prior studies that were focused on other conifer species. The post-fire growth in the saplings that survived the fires decreased with increasing FRE dosages, while the percentage mortality in the sapling dosage groups increased with the amount of FRE applied. Furthermore, as with lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), a low FRE dosage could be applied that did not yield mortality in any of the replicates (r=10). These results suggest that land management agencies could use planned burns to reduce fire hazard while still maintaining a crop of young saplings. Incorporation of these results into earth-system models and growth and yield models could help reduce uncertainties associated with the impacts of fire on timber growth, forest resilience, carbon dynamics, and ecosystem economics.

Citation: Steady WD, Feltrin RP, Johnson DM, Sparks AM, Kolden CA, Talhelm AF, Lutz JA, Boschetti L, Hudak AT, Nelson AS, and Smith AMS. 2019. The survival of Pinus ponderosa saplings subjected to increasing levels of fire behavior and impacts on post-fire growth. Fire 2(2):23. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2020023
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Successional Changes, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Fire Regime, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Recovery after fire, Resilience
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 19648
FRAMES RCS number: 57861
Record updated: Jun 4, 2019