Ponderosa pine is widely distributed in fire-dependent ecosystems across western North America. Some individuals of this long-lived species have survived repeated wounding by frequent, low-severity fires and have a cavity surrounded by fire scars, termed a catface.
Our understanding of the historical role of surface fires in ponderosa pine ecosystems is based on the records of fire preserved in these catfaces. This record has been extracted from many dead ponderosa pine trees, but it has also been extracted from thousands of live trees across the western U.S. by removing a partial cross section from one or both sides of the catface with a chain saw.
Concern over the effects of removing partial cross sections may limit live-tree sampling and consequently restrict the development of science-based management. Casual observation indicates that sampling wounds generally do not kill trees. However, the effect on tree mortality of removing fire-scarred partial cross sections is poorly quantified.
For additional information, please visit the full project page at https://www.firelab.org/project/condition-live-fire-scarred-ponderosa-pi...