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Forests 2017, 8(5), 159; doi:10.3390/f8050159

Climate Drives Episodic Conifer Establishment after Fire in Dry Ponderosa Pine Forests of the Colorado Front Range, USA

1
Biogeography Lab, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2
Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, 13093 Henry Beadel Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32312, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Emanuele Lingua
Received: 1 March 2017 / Revised: 20 April 2017 / Accepted: 27 April 2017 / Published: 8 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Post-Disturbance Forest Management and Regeneration Dynamics)
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Abstract

In recent years, warming climate and increased fire activity have raised concern about post-fire recovery of western U.S. forests. We assessed relationships between climate variability and tree establishment after fire in dry ponderosa pine forests of the Colorado Front Range. We harvested and aged over 400 post-fire juvenile ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees using an improved tree-ring based approach that yielded annually-resolved dates and then assessed relationships between climate variability and pulses of tree establishment. We found that tree establishment was largely concentrated in years of above-average moisture availability in the growing season, including higher amounts of precipitation and more positive values of the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Under continued climate change, drier conditions associated with warming temperatures may limit forest recovery after fire, which could result in lower stand densities or shifts to non-forested vegetation in some areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate variability; regeneration dynamics; resilience; ponderosa pine; tree establishment; wildfire; tree rings; Colorado Front Range; dendrochronology; climate change climate variability; regeneration dynamics; resilience; ponderosa pine; tree establishment; wildfire; tree rings; Colorado Front Range; dendrochronology; climate change
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Rother, M.T.; Veblen, T.T. Climate Drives Episodic Conifer Establishment after Fire in Dry Ponderosa Pine Forests of the Colorado Front Range, USA. Forests 2017, 8, 159.

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