Category: Ecological Research
Title: Fire history of pinyon-juniper woodlands at upper ecotones with ponderosa pine forests in Arizona and New Mexico
Author: * Huffman, D.W. , * Fule, P.Z. , * Pearson, K.M. , * Crouse, J.E.
Subject: Fire history, Pinyon-Juniper, Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Abstract: We used maps of fire evidence, fire scar dendrochronology, forest age-structure analysis, and landscape analysis to investigate fire history at pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) – juniper (Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little, Juniperus scopulorum Sarg.) woodland – ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson) forest ecotones in Arizona (Tusayan) and in New Mexico (Canjilon). Results showed that charred trees were not evenly distributed across vegetative communities but were significantly (p < 0.001) more abundant than expected in ponderosa pine communities. Composite fire scar analysis indicated that surface fires occurred in ponderosa pine stands at both sites and burned at intervals of 7.2–11.1 years (WMPI; Weibull median probability interval). At Tusayan, landscape structure was fine grained, and maximum pinyon age was >200 years across 80% of the site. At Canjilon, landscape pattern was relatively coarse, and most pinyon patches were 200–300 years old. Cumulative standing age distributions suggested pinyon–juniper fire rotations of 340 and 290 years at Tusayan and Canjilon, respectively. We concluded the following: (i) surface fires in ponderosa pine stands did not spread through pinyon–juniper communities at either site, (ii) fire evidence was prevalent across both sites, but old pinyon trees indicated that no widespread lethal fires had occurred in the last 300–400 years, and (iii) structurally heterogeneous landscapes suggested that historical pinyon–juniper fires were of limited extent but lethal in patches.
Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Publisher: NRC Canada