Tree mortality is often the result of both long-term and short-term stress. Growth rate, an indicator of long-term stress, is often used to estimate probability of death in unburned stands. In contrast, probability of death in burned stands is modeled as a function of short-term disturbance severity. We sought to narrow this conceptual gap by determining (i) whether growth rate, in addition to crown scorch, is a predictor of mortality in burned stands and (ii) whether a single, simple model could predict tree death in both burned and unburned stands. Observations of 2622 unburned and 688 burned Abies concolor (Gord. & Glend.) Lindl. (white fir) in the Sierra Nevada of California, U.S.A., indicated that growth rate was a significant predictor of mortality in the unburned stands, while both crown scorch and radial growth were significant predictors of mortality in the burned stands. Applying the burned stand model to unburned stands resulted in an overestimation of the unburned stand mortality rate. While failing to create a general model of tree death for A. concolor, our findings underscore the idea that similar processes may affect mortality in disturbed and undisturbed stands.
Additional publication details
Growth rate predicts mortality of Abies concolor in both burned and unburned stands