Author(s):
Jamie L. Peeler, Erica A. H. Smithwick
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Topic(s):
Fire Ecology
Fire Effects
Recovery after fire
Resilience
Restoration

NRFSN number: 24019
FRAMES RCS Number: 64830
Record updated: January 4, 2022

Context:Landscape and local factors govern tree regeneration across heterogeneous post-fire forest environments. But their relative influence is unclear—limiting the degree that managers can consider landscape context when delegating resources to help stand-replacing patches restock successfully.

Objectives: We investigated how landscape and local factors shape tree regeneration across heterogeneous post-fire forest environments. Our research questions were: What is the relative influence of landscape and local factors on tree species presence (RQ1) and stocking density (RQ2) at stand-replacing patches? Do thresholds occur when landscape factors are influential (RQ3)?

Methods: We sampled landscape and local variables at 71 plots near Jackson, Wyoming, United States. We used Random Forests to investigate how local and landscape variables affect post-fire tree recovery. Relative influence was determined using mean decrease in accuracy. Partial dependence plots were used to visualize whether thresholds occurred for variables with mean decrease in accuracy > 15%.

Results: Landscape factors like seed source area were associated with subalpine fir presence and stocking density. But different thresholds occurred. Specifically, subalpine fir presence required 10% seed source area, while stocking density required 40%. Northeast aspects surrounded by > 10% seed source area were most likely to support subalpine fir presence. Conversely, local factors like soil nutrients were associated with lodgepole pine presence, highlighting effects of different regeneration strategies.

Conclusions: Landscape factors bolster spatial resilience and help stand-replacing patches restock naturally. But landscape factors do not support tree regeneration equally across heterogeneous post-fire forest environments. Consequently, considering stand-replacing patches in their landscape context will be critical for future spatial action planning.

Citation

Peeler, Jamie L.; Smithwick, Erica A. H. 2021. Interactions between landscape and local factors inform spatial action planning in post-fire forest environments. Landscape Ecology 36(12):3523-3537.

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