Conifer forests of the western US (West) are largely fire adapted ecosystems that historically have recovered naturally in the years to decades following wildfire. As climate change alters the extent, frequency, and severity of wildfire, and causes warmer and drier post-fire conditions, forests may not be able to recover how they have in the past. Fire severity, which affects how many trees survive the fire and produce seeds for recovery, is a key driver of post-fire conifer regeneration. Climate is another key determinant of forest recovery because conifer seedlings are sensitive to hot and dry conditions. Understanding the relative importance and interactions between these two drivers of post-fire conifer regeneration is crucial for identifying vulnerability to post-fire forest loss and key opportunities for potential management interventions. This study assessed how the interactive impacts of changing climate and wildfire activity influenced conifer regeneration of eight widespread species across the West.
Davis, Kimberley T, +62 other authors. 2023. Reduced fire severity offers near-term buffer to climate-driven declines in conifer resilience across the western United States. PNAS 120(11). https:// doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2208120120