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Forests 2018, 9(3), 152; doi:10.3390/f9030152

Overstory Structure and Surface Cover Dynamics in the Decade Following the Hayman Fire, Colorado

1
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 240 West Prospect Road, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA
2
Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 13 March 2018 / Accepted: 15 March 2018 / Published: 17 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildland Fire, Forest Dynamics, and Their Interactions)
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Abstract

The 2002 Hayman Fire burned with mixed-severity across a 400-ha dry conifer study site in Colorado, USA, where overstory tree and surface cover attributes had been recently measured on 20 0.1-ha permanent plots. We remeasured these plots repeatedly during the first post-fire decade to examine how the attributes changed through time and whether changes were influenced by fire severity. We found that most attributes were temporally dynamic and that fire severity shaped their dynamics. For example, low-severity plots experienced a modest reduction in live overstory density due to both immediate and delayed tree mortality, and no change in live overstory basal area through time; in contrast, high-severity plots experienced an immediate and total loss of live overstory density and basal area. Large snag density in low-severity plots did not vary temporally because snag recruitment balanced snag loss; however, in high-severity plots large snag density increased markedly immediately post-fire and then declined by about half by post-fire year ten as snags fell. Mineral soil cover increased modestly immediately post-fire in low-severity plots and substantially immediately post-fire in high-severity plots, but changed little in ensuing years for either severity class. By incorporating pre-fire and repeatedly-measured post-fire data for a range of severities, our study uniquely contributes to the current understanding of wildfire effects in dry conifer forests and should be of interest to managers, researchers, and others. View Full-Text
Keywords: Colorado; USA; delayed tree mortality; Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco); Hayman Fire; ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson); snag; surface cover Colorado; USA; delayed tree mortality; Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco); Hayman Fire; ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson); snag; surface cover
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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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Fornwalt, P.J.; Stevens-Rumann, C.S.; Collins, B.J. Overstory Structure and Surface Cover Dynamics in the Decade Following the Hayman Fire, Colorado. Forests 2018, 9, 152.

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