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Fire and high-elevation, five-needle pine (Pinus aristata & P. flexilis) ecosystems in the southern Rocky Mountains: What do we know?

Posted date: June 30, 2011
Publication Year: 
2011
Authors: Coop, Jonathan D.; Schoettle, Anna W.
Publication Series: 
Proceedings (P)
Source: In: Keane, Robert E.; Tomback, Diana F.; Murray, Michael P.; Smith, Cyndi M., eds. The future of high-elevation, five-needle white pines in Western North America: Proceedings of the High Five Symposium. 28-30 June 2010; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-63. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 164-173.
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata Engelm) and limber pine (P. flexilis James) are high-elevation, fiveneedle pines of the southern Rocky Mountains. The pre-settlement role of fire in bristlecone and limber pine forests remains the subject of considerable uncertainty; both species likely experienced a wide range of fire regimes across gradients of site productivity and connectivity of fuels and flammable landscapes. In dense stands and more continuous forests, stand history reconstructions provide evidence for infrequent, high-severity fires. Limber pine can be dispersed long distances by Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana), and in the high-elevation subalpine forests of the northern Colorado Front Range, it is an early colonist of extensive, highseverity burns. However, this relationship with fire may not be general to the southern Rockies. The degree to which high-severity fire was typical of bristlecone pine, and the spatial extent of such fires, is uncertain. Following fire, bristlecone pine regeneration tends to be constrained to burn edges or beneath surviving trees.

Citation

Coop, Jonathan D.; Schoettle, Anna W. 2011. Fire and high-elevation, five-needle pine (Pinus aristata & P. flexilis) ecosystems in the southern Rocky Mountains: What do we know? In: Keane, Robert E.; Tomback, Diana F.; Murray, Michael P.; Smith, Cyndi M., eds. The future of high-elevation, five-needle white pines in Western North America: Proceedings of the High Five Symposium. 28-30 June 2010; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-63. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 164-173.