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Overstory structure and surface cover dynamics in the decade following the Hayman Fire, Colorado

Posted date: March 22, 2018
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: Fornwalt, Paula J.; Stevens-Rumann, Camille S.; Collins, Byron J.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Forests. 9: 152.

Abstract

The 2002 Hayman Fire burned with mixed-severity across a 400-ha dry conifer study site in Colorado, USA, where overstory tree and surface cover attributes had been recently measured on 20 0.1-ha permanent plots. We remeasured these plots repeatedly during the first post-fire decade to examine how the attributes changed through time and whether changes were influenced by fire severity. We found that most attributes were temporally dynamic and that fire severity shaped their dynamics. For example, low-severity plots experienced a modest reduction in live overstory density due to both immediate and delayed tree mortality, and no change in live overstory basal area through time; in contrast, high-severity plots experienced an immediate and total loss of live overstory density and basal area. Large snag density in low-severity plots did not vary temporally because snag recruitment balanced snag loss; however, in high-severity plots large snag density increased markedly immediately post-fire and then declined by about half by post-fire year ten as snags fell. Mineral soil cover increased modestly immediately post-fire in low-severity plots and substantially immediately post-fire in high-severity plots, but changed little in ensuing years for either severity class. By incorporating pre-fire and repeatedly-measured post-fire data for a range of severities, our study uniquely contributes to the current understanding of wildfire effects in dry conifer forests and should be of interest to managers, researchers, and others.

Citation

Fornwalt, Paula J.; Stevens-Rumann, Camille S.; Collins, Byron J. 2018. Overstory structure and surface cover dynamics in the decade following the Hayman Fire, Colorado. Forests. 9: 152.