International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Impacts of fire radiative flux on mature Pinus ponderosa growth and vulnerability to secondary mortality agents

Aaron M. Sparks A C , Alistair M. S. Smith A , Alan F. Talhelm A B , Crystal A. Kolden A , Kara M. Yedinak A and Daniel M. Johnson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA.

B Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education, National Center for Environmental Assessment, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 277094, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: spar5010@vandals.uidaho.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(1) 95-106 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16139
Submitted: 27 July 2016  Accepted: 6 November 2016   Published: 10 January 2017

Abstract

Recent studies have highlighted the potential of linking fire behaviour to plant ecophysiology as an improved route to characterising severity, but research to date has been limited to laboratory-scale investigations. Fine-scale fire behaviour during prescribed fires has been identified as a strong predictor of post-fire tree recovery and growth, but most studies report these metrics averaged over the entire fire. Previous research has found inconsistent effects of low-intensity fire on mature Pinus ponderosa growth. In this study, fire behaviour was quantified at the tree scale and compared with post-fire radial growth and axial resin duct defences. Results show a clear dose–response relationship between peak fire radiative power per unit area (W m–2) and post-fire Pinus ponderosa radial growth. Unlike in previous laboratory research on seedlings, there was no dose–response relationship observed between fire radiative energy per unit area (J m–2) and post-fire mature tree growth in the surviving trees. These results may suggest that post-fire impacts on growth of surviving seedlings and mature trees require other modes of heat transfer to impact plant canopies. This study demonstrates that increased resin duct defence is induced regardless of fire intensity, which may decrease Pinus ponderosa vulnerability to secondary mortality agents.

Additional keywords: conifers, fire behaviour, fire severity, post-fire impacts.


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