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Introduction to the special issue on Sierran mixed-conifer researchAuthor(s): Malcolm North; Jiquan Chen
Source: Forest Science, Vol. 51(3): 185-186
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionLike much of the western United States, California’s forest has been severely altered by a century of fire suppression. The Sierra Nevada’s largest forest type, mixed conifer, which is primary habitat for more vertebrate species than any other Californian forest community, historically burned every 12–17 years. In 1894, John Muir wrote "The inviting openness of the Sierra woods is one of their most distinguishing characteristics. The trees of all the species stand more or less apart in groves, or in small, irregular groups, enabling one to find a way nearly everywhere, along sunny colonnades and through openings that have a smooth, parklike surface..."; (Muir 1894). Now most mixed-conifer forest is characterized by dense thickets of small shade-tolerant fir and cedar, which could quickly transfer a ground fire into the overstory crowns. Estimates based on the area burned each year project the current fire return interval at >600 years. Regional and national plans such as the Sierra Nevada Forest Framework and the Healthy Forest Initiative have made restoration a priority, yet these plans are highly controversial, in part because there is so little ecological information for guiding management prescriptions. Any effort to restore these forests to "health" or an active fire regime will only be improved with an understanding of how the ecosystem functions. This collection of articles investigates the connections between forest structure and composition, and the ecological processes that define Sierran mixed conifer.
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CitationNorth, Malcolm; Chen, Jiquan. 2005. Introduction to the special issue on Sierran mixed-conifer research. Forest Science, Vol. 51(3): 185-186
- Bird foraging on incense-cedar and incense-cedar scale during winter in California
- Incidence and effects of endemic populations of forest pests in young mixed-conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada
- Assessing uncertainty and demonstrating potential for estimating fire rate of spread at landscape scales based on time sequential airborne thermal infrared imaging
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