Forest reproduction along a climatic gradient in the Sierra Nevada, California

Forest Ecology and Management
By: , and 



To elucidate broad-scale environmental controls of coniferous forest reproduction in the Sierra Nevada, California, we monitored reproduction for 5 years in 47 plots arrayed across a steep elevational (climatic) gradient. We found that both absolute seedling densities (stems < 1.37 m) and seedling densities relative to overstory parent tree basal area declined sharply with elevation. Rates of seedling turnover (the average of birth and death rates) also declined with elevation. In contrast, seed production was not predicted by elevation and was highly variable from year to year. During a mast year of seed production, the intensity of masting was uneven among plots. Seedling densities were elevated only during the single year immediately following the mast year, suggesting reproduction in our forests may be primarily limited by abiotic factors such as the availability of suitable sites and weather. Disturbance also clearly affected reproduction; plots that had recently burned had significantly higher seedling to parent tree ratios for Abies species, suggesting that even though established Abies concolor may be relatively susceptible to fire, the species can recover rapidly through prolific reproduction. Since reproductive failures may be our earliest signal of changing forest conditions, seedling dynamics could provide a sensitive, if variable, indicator of environmental changes.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Forest reproduction along a climatic gradient in the Sierra Nevada, California
Series title Forest Ecology and Management
DOI 10.1016/j.foreco.2006.01.015
Volume 225
Issue 1-3
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Western Ecological Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 391
Last page 399
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sierra Nevada
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table