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Influence of tree size, reduced competition and climate on the growth response of surviving Black pines after a surface fire

After wildfire, surviving trees are of major ecological importance as they can help in the post-fire regeneration process. Although these trees may be damaged, they may also benefit from reduced fuel hazard and competition. However, little is known about the long-term growth response of surviving trees. A new study aims to explain short- to long-term variations in the postfire growth of surviving black pines. The research focused on fire severity levels and tree sizes, and was conducted in an area burnt in 1994.

Fire_induced_mortality_250.jpg : 89.42578125KbRelative basal area increments were used to detect variations in postfire radial tree growth in relation to fire severity. Linear mixed-effects models were used to describe the factors affecting postfire ring growth.

The analysis showed that in the short term, fire reduces growth of small trees with increasing bole char height. However, in the long term, a positive effect on growth was detected, due to reduced competition. This effect counteracted the short-term fire impacts, and small surviving trees demonstrated a surge in growth 15 years after the fire.

This study is part of Teresa Valor’s Ph.D. thesis, which focuses on understanding the effects of fire as a management tool, on tree vitality and forest structure on different Mediterranean pine species. The study was conducted at the Forest Sciences Center of Catalonia (CTFC) in the frame of the ForBurn project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

Photos by Teresa Valor

Valor, T., Pique, M., López, B.C., Gonzalez-Olabarria, J.R. (2013) Influence of tree size, reduced competition and climate on the growth response of surviving Black pines after a surface fire. Annals of Forest Science (DOI: 10.1007/s13595-013-0284-x) online




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