Skip to Main Content
Presettlement and modern disturbance regimes in coast redwood forests: Implications for the conservation of old-growth standsAuthor(s): C.G. Lorimer; D.G. Porter; M.A. Madej; J.D. Stuart; S.D. Veirs; S.P. Norman; K.L OHara; W.J.. Libby
Source: Forest Ecology and Management 258:1038-1054.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: View PDF (958.96 KB)
DescriptionCoast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), a western North American conifer of ancient lineage, has a paradoxical combination of late-successional characteristics and strong adaptations to disturbance. Despite its shade tolerance and heavy dominance of the canopy on many sites, redwood saplings are uncommon in upland old-growth stands. Information needed to ensure the conservation of old-growth redwood forests has been limited. In this review paper, we integrate evidence on redwood biology with data on the historic and modern disturbance regimes to help clarify the degree to which key attributes of redwood forests may have been dependent upon periodic disturbance. Available evidence suggests that episodes of fire, flooding, and slope failure prior to European settlement were frequent but predominantly of low to moderate severity and extent, resulting in broadly uneven-aged forests. The majority of fires prior to European settlement were apparently of human origin. Frequency and severity of the major disturbance agents have been radically changed in modern times. Fires have been largely excluded, and flooding has been altered in ways that have often been detrimental to old-growth redwoods on alluvial terraces. However, because of the apparent anthropogenic origin of most presettlement fires, the long-term evolutionary role of fire for coast redwood is ecologically ambiguous. With fire exclusion, redwood possibly could be displaced to some extent on upland sites by increasing abundance of fire-sensitive competitors. Alternatively, redwood may be able to maintain dominance by vegetative sprouting and new seedling establishment on root-wad mounds, fallen logs, and on soil exposed by slope failure. Future research priorities are suggested that will help resolve some of the current ambiguities.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationLorimer, C.G.; Porter, D.G.; Madej, M.A.; Stuart, J.D.; Veirs, S.D. , Jr.; Norman, S.P.; OHara, K.L; Libby, W.J.. 2009. Presettlement and modern disturbance regimes in coast redwood forests: Implications for the conservation of old-growth stands. Forest Ecology and Management 258:1038-1054.
Keywordsage structure, fire regimes, fire suppression, flooding, forest succession, gap dynamics, sequoia semprvirens, windstorms
- Sudden Oak Death in redwood forests: vegetation dynamics in the wake of tanoak decline
- Decomposition and N cycling changes in redwood forests caused by sudden oak death
- The listing of coast redwood as endangered under the IUCN red list: lessons for conservation
XML: View XML