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The influence of parent material on vegetation response 15 years after the Dude Fire, Arizona

Year:

2015

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station

Source:

Forests. 6: 613-635.

Description

This study examined the effects of two types of parent material, sandstone and limestone, on the response of vegetation growth after the 1990 Dude Fire in central Arizona. The operating hypothesis of the study was that, given the right conditions, severe wildfire can trigger vegetation type conversion. Overall, three patterns emerged: (1) oak density increased by 413% from unburned sites to burned sites, with the highest densities occurring on sandstone soils; (2) weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula Nees), a very aggressive non-native grass species seeded after the fire, now makes up 81% of the total herbaceous cover in the burned area; and (3) bare ground cover is 150% higher and litter cover is 50% lower in the burned area. Soil analysis was not definitive enough to differentiate impacts between parent materials however it was useful in quantifying the long-term impact of the fire on soils. The results of this study support the idea that catastrophic fire events can trigger vegetation type conversion and that perennial, non-native species used in rehabilitation efforts can persist within the ecosystem for long periods of time. Hence, the recovery period needed for the Dude Fire site to revert back to a pine-oak dominated forest could be on the scale of many decades to centuries.

Citation

Leonard, Jackson M.; Medina, Alvin L.; Neary, Daniel G.; Tecle, Aregai. 2015. The influence of parent material on vegetation response 15 years after the Dude Fire, Arizona. Forests. 6: 613-635.

Publication Notes

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/47800