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Long-term demographic trends in a fire-suppressed mixed-conifer forest


Carrie R. Levine
Flora Krivak-Tetley
Jolie-Anne S. Ansley
John J. Battles



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 46(5): 745-752


In the western United States, forests are experiencing novel environmental conditions related to a changing climate and a suppression of the historical fire regime. Mixed-conifer forests, considered resilient to disturbance due to their heterogeneity in structure and composition, appear to be shifting to a more homogeneous state, but the timescale of these shifts is not well understood. Our objective was to assess the effects of climate and fire suppression on stand dynamics and demographic rates of an old-growth mixed-conifer forest in the Sierra Nevada. We used a Bayesian hierarchical analysis to quantify species and community rates of recruitment, growth, and mortality. Despite a warming climate, we found that stand density, basal area, and carbon have increased over 56 years. Fir recruitment and growth significantly exceeded the community-level median rates, whereas pine recruitment and growth was significantly lower than the community-level median rates. Shifts in species composition from a well-mixed stand to a more dense fir-dominated stand appear to be driven by low growth and recruitment rates of pines relative to firs. In forests such as these with consistent and relatively low mortality rates, we recommend that restoration and management activities be focused on promoting pine recruitment and growth.


Levine, Carrie R.; Krivak-Tetley, Flora; van Doorn, Natalie S.; Ansley, Jolie-Anne S.; Battles, John J. 2016. Long-term demographic trends in a fire-suppressed mixed-conifer forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 46(5): 745-752.


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