The influence of prefire tree growth and crown condition on postfire mortality of sugar pine following prescribed fire in Sequoia National Park

Canadian Journal of Forest Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Tree mortality is a vital component of forest management in the context of prescribed fires; however, few studies have examined the effect of prefire tree health on postfire mortality. This is especially relevant for sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Douglas), a species experiencing population declines due to a suite of anthropogenic factors. Using data from an old-growth mixed-conifer forest in Sequoia National Park, we evaluated the effects of fire, tree size, prefire radial growth, and crown condition on postfire mortality. Models based only on tree size and measures of fire damage were compared with models that included tree size, fire damage, and prefire tree health (e.g., measures of prefire tree radial growth or crown condition). Immediately following the fire, the inclusion of different metrics of prefire tree health produced variable improvements over the models that included only tree size and measures of fire damage, as models that included measures of crown condition performed better than fire-only models, but models that included measures of prefire radial growth did not perform better. However, 5 years following the fire, sugar pine mortality was best predicted by models that included measures of both fire damage and prefire tree health, specifically, diameter at breast height (DBH, 1.37 m), crown scorch, 30-year mean growth, and the number of sharp declines in growth over a 30-year period. This suggests that factors that influence prefire tree health (e.g., drought, competition, pathogens, etc.) may partially determine postfire mortality, especially when accounting for delayed mortality following fire.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The influence of prefire tree growth and crown condition on postfire mortality of sugar pine following prescribed fire in Sequoia National Park
Series title Canadian Journal of Forest Research
DOI 10.1139/cjfr-2014-0449
Volume 45
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 910
Last page 919
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sequoia National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N