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

Altered mixed-severity fire regime has homogenised montane forests of Jasper National Park

Raphaël D. Chavardès A B and Lori D. Daniels A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Forest and Conservation Sciences Department, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.

B Corresponding author. Email: raphael3@alumni.ubc.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 25(4) 433-444 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF15048
Submitted: 20 February 2015  Accepted: 4 November 2015   Published: 11 February 2016

Abstract

Fire suppression has altered the historical mixed-severity fire regime and homogenised forest structures in Jasper National Park, Canada. We used dendrochronology to reconstruct fire history and assess forest dynamics at 29 sites in the montane forests. Based on fire scars and even-aged post-fire cohorts, we determined 18 sites had mixed-severity fire histories through time, and 11 sites had evidence of high-severity fires only – yielding a mixed-severity fire regime for the study area. Lodgepole pine, hybrid spruce and Douglas-fir established simultaneously after low- and high-severity fires. Regardless of fire history, forest canopies were mixed in composition and subcanopies were strongly dominated by shade-tolerant hybrid spruce. Despite their size, subcanopy trees were similar in age to the canopy trees. Current stand composition and age structures largely reflect the effects of high-severity fires that burned ~110 years ago at 18 of 29 sites. In the absence of fires after 1905, forests have matured simultaneously, homogenising the landscape and resulting in forest structures that are more conducive to high-severity fire than are fires of a range of severities. Proactive fire management is justified to restore fire as a vital ecological process and promote forest resilience by countering the effects of a century of fire suppression.

Additional keywords: age structure, dendroecology, fire frequency, fire severity, fire suppression, forest resilience, landscape homogenisation.


References

Agee JK (1993) ‘Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC)

Agee JK (1998) The landscape ecology of western forest fire regimes. Northwest Science 72, 24–34.

Amoroso MM, Daniels LD, Bataneih M, Andison DW (2011) Evidence of mixed-severity fires in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of west-central Alberta, Canada. Forest Ecology and Management 262, 2240–2249.
Evidence of mixed-severity fires in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of west-central Alberta, Canada.CrossRef |

Antos JA, Parish R (2002) Dynamics of an old-growth, fire-initiated, subalpine forest in southern interior British Columbia: tree size, age, and spatial structure. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32, 1935–1946.
Dynamics of an old-growth, fire-initiated, subalpine forest in southern interior British Columbia: tree size, age, and spatial structure.CrossRef |

Beaty MR, Taylor AH (2008) Fire history and the structure and dynamics of a mixed conifer forest landscape in the northern Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe Basin, California, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 255, 707–719.
Fire history and the structure and dynamics of a mixed conifer forest landscape in the northern Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe Basin, California, USA.CrossRef |

Bekker MF, Taylor AH (2010) Fire disturbance, forest structure, and stand dynamics in montane forests of the southern Cascades, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, California, USA. Ecoscience 17, 59–72.
Fire disturbance, forest structure, and stand dynamics in montane forests of the southern Cascades, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, California, USA.CrossRef |

Bridgland MP (1924) Photographic surveying. Topographical Survey of Canada 56, 1–47.

British Columbia Ministry of Forests (1995) ‘Biodiversity guidebook: forest practices code of British Columbia.’ (British Columbia Ministry of Forests: Victoria, BC) http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/tasb/legsregs/fpc/fpcguide/biodiv/biotoc.htm [Verified 15 September 2012]

Burns RM, Honkala BH (1990) ‘Silvics of North America. Vol.: 1, Conifers.’ (USDA Forest Service: Washington, DC)

Cochrane JD, Daniels LD (2008) Striking a balance: safe sampling of partial stem cross-sections in British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management 9, 38–46.

Crane MF, Habeck JR, Fischer WC (1983) Early postfire revegetation in a western Montana Douglas-fir forest. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Research Paper INT-319 (Ogden, UT)10.5962/BHL.TITLE.68732

Daniels LD, Maertens TB, Stan AB, McCloskey SPJ, Cochrane JD, Gray RW (2011) Direct and indirect impacts of climate change on forests: three case studies from British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 33, 108–116.
Direct and indirect impacts of climate change on forests: three case studies from British Columbia.CrossRef |

Dillon WR, Goldstein M (1984) ‘Multivariate Analysis: Methods and Application.’ (John Wiley and Sons: New York, NY)

Duncan R (1989) An evaluation of errors in tree age estimates based on increment cores in kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides). New Zealand Natural Sciences 16, 31–37.

Environment Canada (2015) Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000: Jasper, Alberta (Climate ID 3053520). (National Climate Data and Information Archive: Ottawa, ON) http://climate.weather.gc.ca/climate_normals/ [Verified 30 May 2015]

Falk DA, Heyerdahl EK, Brown PM, Farris C, Fulé PZ, McKenzie D, Swetnam TW, Taylor AH, Van Horne ML (2011) Multi-scale controls of historical forest-fire regimes: new insights from fire-scar networks. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9, 446–454.
Multi-scale controls of historical forest-fire regimes: new insights from fire-scar networks.CrossRef |

Ferguson CW, Parker ML (1965) IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series CANA026. (NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program: Boulder, CO) http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/recons.html [Verified 15 March 2015]

Fulé PZ, Crouse JE, Heinlein TA, Moore MM, Covington WW, Verkamp G (2003) Mixed-severity fire regime in a high-elevation forest of Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. Landscape Ecology 18, 465–486.
Mixed-severity fire regime in a high-elevation forest of Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA.CrossRef |

Grissino-Mayer HD (2001) Evaluating crossdating accuracy: a manual and tutorial for the computer program COFECHA. Tree-Ring Research 57, 205–221.

Halofsky JE, Donato DC, Hibbs DE, Campbell JL, Cannon MD, Fontaine JB, Thompson JR, Anthony RG, Bormann BT, Kayes LJ, Law BE, Peterson DL, Spies TA (2011) Mixed-severity fire regimes: lessons and hypotheses from the Klamath–Siskiyou ecoregion. Ecosphere 2, 40
Mixed-severity fire regimes: lessons and hypotheses from the Klamath–Siskiyou ecoregion.CrossRef |

Hessburg PF, Salter RB, James KM (2007) Re-examining fire severity relations in pre-management era mixed conifer forests: inferences from landscape patterns of forest structure. Landscape Ecology 22, 5–24.
Re-examining fire severity relations in pre-management era mixed conifer forests: inferences from landscape patterns of forest structure.CrossRef |

Heyerdahl EK, Miller RF, Parson RA (2006) History of fire and Douglas-fir establishment in a savanna and sagebrush-grassland mosaic, southwestern Montana, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 230, 107–118.
History of fire and Douglas-fir establishment in a savanna and sagebrush-grassland mosaic, southwestern Montana, USA.CrossRef |

Heyerdahl EK, McKenzie D, Daniels LD, Hessl AE, Littell JS, Mantua NJ (2008) Climate drivers of regionally synchronous fires in the inland Northwest (1651–1900). International Journal of Wildland Fire 17, 40–49.
Climate drivers of regionally synchronous fires in the inland Northwest (1651–1900).CrossRef |

Heyerdahl EK, Lertzman K, Wong CM (2012) Mixed-severity fire regimes in dry forests of southern interior British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 42, 88–98.
Mixed-severity fire regimes in dry forests of southern interior British Columbia, Canada.CrossRef |

Higgs ES, Bartley G, Fisher AC (2009) ‘The Mountain Legacy Project.’ (University of Victoria: Victoria, BC)

Holland WD, Coen GM (1982) ‘Ecological (biophysical) land classification of Banff and Jasper National Parks, Vol. II: Soil and Vegetation Resources.’ (Alberta Institute of Pedology Publication: Edmonton, AB)

Holmes RL (1983) Computer-assisted quality control in tree-ring dating and measurement. Tree-Ring Bulletin 43, 69–78.

Johnson EA, Larsen CPS (1991) Climatically induced change in fire frequency in the Southern Canadian Rockies. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 72, 194–201.
Climatically induced change in fire frequency in the Southern Canadian Rockies.CrossRef |

Johnson EA, Fryer GI, Heathcott MJ (1990) The influence of man and climate on frequency of fire in the interior wet belt forest, British Columbia. Journal of Ecology 78, 403–412.
The influence of man and climate on frequency of fire in the interior wet belt forest, British Columbia.CrossRef |

Johnson EA, Miyanishi K, Weir JMH (1998) Wildfires in the Western Canadian boreal forest: landscape patterns and ecosystem management. Journal of Vegetation Science 9, 603–610.
Wildfires in the Western Canadian boreal forest: landscape patterns and ecosystem management.CrossRef |

Johnson EA, Miyanishi K, Bridge SRJ (2001) Wildfire regime in the boreal forest and the idea of suppression and fuel buildup. Conservation Biology 15, 1554–1557.
Wildfire regime in the boreal forest and the idea of suppression and fuel buildup.CrossRef |

Jonsson B, Holm S, Kallur H (1992) A forest inventory method based on density-adapted circular plot size. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 7, 405–421.
A forest inventory method based on density-adapted circular plot size.CrossRef |

Klinka K, Worrall J, Skoda L, Varga P (2000) ‘The distribution and synopsis of the ecological and silvical characteristics of tree species of British Columbia’s Forests.’ (Canadian Cartographics Limited: Coquitlam, BC)

Kottek M, Grieser J, Beck C, Rudolf B, Rubel F (2006) World map of the Köppen–Geiger climate classification updated. Meteorologische Zeitschrift 15, 259–263.
World map of the Köppen–Geiger climate classification updated.CrossRef |

Larsson L (2011a) CooRecorder program of the CDendro package version 7.4. Cybis Elektronik & Data AB, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden.

Larsson L (2011b) CDendro program of the CDendro package version 7.4. Cybis Elektronik & Data AB, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden.

Lertzman KP, Fall J, Dorner B (1998) Three kinds of heterogeneity in fire regimes: at the crossroads of fire history and landscape ecology. Northwest Science 72, 4–23.

Lessard VC, Drummer TD, Reed DD (2002) Precision of density estimates from fixed-radius plots compared to n-tree distance sampling. Forest Science 48, 1–6.

Littell JS, Oneil EE, McKenzie D, Hicke JA, Lutz JA, Norheim RA, Elsner MM (2010) Forest ecosystems, disturbance, and climatic change in Washington State, USA. Climatic Change 102, 129–158.
Forest ecosystems, disturbance, and climatic change in Washington State, USA.CrossRef |

Luckman BH (1998) Landscape and climate change in the central Canadian Rockies during the 20th century. Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe Canadien 42, 319–336.
Landscape and climate change in the central Canadian Rockies during the 20th century.CrossRef |

Macias-Fauria M, Johnson EA (2008) Climate and wildfires in the North American boreal forest. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 363, 2315–2327.
Climate and wildfires in the North American boreal forest.CrossRef |

MacLaren IS (2007) Introduction. In ‘Culturing wilderness in Jasper National Park.’ (Ed. IS MacLaren) pp. XV–XLIII. (The University of Alberta Press: Edmonton, AB)

Mahalanobis P (1930) On tests and measures of group divergence. Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 26, 541–588.

Marcoux HM, Gergel SE, Daniels LD (2013) Mixed-severity fire regimes: how well are they represented by existing fire-regime classification systems? Canadian Journal of Forest Research 43, 658–668.
Mixed-severity fire regimes: how well are they represented by existing fire-regime classification systems?CrossRef |

Marcoux HM, Daniels LD, Gergel SE, Da Silva E, Gedalof ZM, Hessburg PF (2015) Differentiating mixed- and high-severity fire regimes in mixed-conifer forests of the Canadian Cordillera. Forest Ecology and Management 341, 45–58.
Differentiating mixed- and high-severity fire regimes in mixed-conifer forests of the Canadian Cordillera.CrossRef |

Masters AM (1990) Changes in forest fire frequency in Kootenay National Park, Canadian Rockies. Canadian Journal of Botany 68, 1763–1767.
Changes in forest fire frequency in Kootenay National Park, Canadian Rockies.CrossRef |

Millar CI, Stephenson NL, Stephens SL (2007) Climate change and forests of the future: managing in the face of uncertainty. Ecological Applications 17, 2145–2151.
Climate change and forests of the future: managing in the face of uncertainty.CrossRef | 18213958PubMed |

Murphy PJ, Udell R, Stevenson RE, Peterson TW (2007) ‘A hard road to travel: land, forests and people in the Upper Athabasca Region.’ (Foothills Model Forest: Hinton, AB)

Nash CH, Johnson EA (1996) Synoptic climatology of lightning-caused forest fires in subalpine and boreal forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 26, 1859–1874.
Synoptic climatology of lightning-caused forest fires in subalpine and boreal forests.CrossRef |

Odion DC, Hanson CT, Arsenault A, Baker WL, Della Sala DA, Hutto RL, Klenner W, Moritz MA, Sherriff RL, Veblen TT, Williams MA (2014) Examining historical and current mixed-severity fire regimes in ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests of western North America. PLoS One 9, e87852
Examining historical and current mixed-severity fire regimes in ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests of western North America.CrossRef | 24498383PubMed |

Oliver CD, Larson BC (1996) ‘Forest Stand Dynamics.’ (John Wiley and Sons: New York, NY)

Parks Canada (1994) ‘Parks Canada guiding principles and operating policies.’ (Department of the Environment: Ottawa ON)

Parks Canada and the Canadian Parks Council (2008) ‘Principles and guidelines for ecological restoration in Canada’s protected natural areas.’ (Parks Canada Agency: Gatineau, QC)

Parsons RA, Heyerdahl EK, Keane RE, Dorner B, Fall J (2007) Assessing accuracy of point fire intervals across landscapes with simulation modelling. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37, 1605–1614.
Assessing accuracy of point fire intervals across landscapes with simulation modelling.CrossRef |

Perry DA, Hessburg PF, Skinner CN, Spies TA, Stephens SL, Taylor AH, Franklin JF, McComb B, Riegel G (2011) The ecology of mixed severity fire regimes in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. Forest Ecology and Management 262, 703–717.
The ecology of mixed severity fire regimes in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.CrossRef |

Powell S, Daniels L, Jones T (2009) Temporal dynamics of large woody debris in small streams of the Alberta foothills, Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39, 1159–1170.
Temporal dynamics of large woody debris in small streams of the Alberta foothills, Canada.CrossRef |

Rhemtulla JM, Hall RJ, Higgs ES, Macdonald SE (2002) Eighty years of change: vegetation in the montane ecoregion of Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32, 2010–2021.
Eighty years of change: vegetation in the montane ecoregion of Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.CrossRef |

Romme WH (1982) Fire and landscape diversity in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park. Ecological Monographs 52, 199–221.
Fire and landscape diversity in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park.CrossRef |

Romme WH, Despain DG (1989) Historical perspective on the Yellowstone fires of 1988. Bioscience 39, 695–699.
Historical perspective on the Yellowstone fires of 1988.CrossRef |

SAS (2011) SAS 9.3. SAS Institute Incorporated, Cary, NC.

Schoennagel T, Veblen TT, Romme WH (2004) The interaction of fire, fuels, and climate across Rocky Mountain forests. Bioscience 54, 661–676.
The interaction of fire, fuels, and climate across Rocky Mountain forests.CrossRef |

Schoennagel T, Veblen TT, Romme WH, Sibold JS, Cook ER (2005) ENSO and PDO variability affect drought-induced fire occurrence in Rocky Mountain subalpine forests. Ecological Applications 15, 2000–2014.
ENSO and PDO variability affect drought-induced fire occurrence in Rocky Mountain subalpine forests.CrossRef |

Schoennagel T, Sherriff R, Veblen TT (2011) Fire history and tree recruitment in the Colorado Front Range upper montane zone: implications for forest restoration. Ecological Applications 21, 2210–2222.
Fire history and tree recruitment in the Colorado Front Range upper montane zone: implications for forest restoration.CrossRef | 21939055PubMed |

Scholl AE, Taylor AH (2010) Fire regimes, forest change, and self-organization in an old-growth mixed-conifer forest, Yosemite National Park, USA. Ecological Applications 20, 362–380.
Fire regimes, forest change, and self-organization in an old-growth mixed-conifer forest, Yosemite National Park, USA.CrossRef | 20405793PubMed |

Sherriff RL, Veblen TT (2006) Ecological effects of changes in fire regimes in Pinus ponderosa ecosystems in the Colorado Front Range. Journal of Vegetation Science 17, 705–718.
Ecological effects of changes in fire regimes in Pinus ponderosa ecosystems in the Colorado Front Range.CrossRef |

Steinberg PD (2002) ‘Fire effects information system: Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca.’ (USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory: Fort Collins, CO) http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/psemeng/all.html [Verified 9 June 2015]

Stephens SL, Agee JK, Fulé PZ, North MP, Romme WH, Swetnam TW, Turner MG (2013) Managing forests and fire in changing climates. Science 342, 41–42.
Managing forests and fire in changing climates.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3sXhsF2jtrjE&md5=dea50029426660a05445b04d8b299fb7CAS | 24092714PubMed |

Stokes MA, Smiley TL (1996) ‘An introduction to tree-ring dating.’ (University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL)

Stringer PW, LaRoi GH (1970) The Douglas-fir forests of Banff and Jasper National Parks, Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany 48, 1703–1726.
The Douglas-fir forests of Banff and Jasper National Parks, Canada.CrossRef |

Swetnam TW, Allen CD, Betancourt JL (1999) Applied historical ecology: using the past to manage for the future. Ecological Applications 9, 1189–1206.
Applied historical ecology: using the past to manage for the future.CrossRef |

Swetnam TW, Falk DA, Hessl AE, Farris C (2011) Reconstructing landscape pattern of historical fires and fire regimes. In ‘The Landscape ecology of fire.’ (Eds D McKenzie, C Miller, DA Falk) pp. 165–192. (Springer: Dordrecht, Netherlands)

SYSTAT (2008) Systat 11. Systat Software, Inc. San Jose, CA.

Tande GF (1979) Fire history and vegetation pattern of coniferous forests in Jasper National Park, Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany 57, 1912–1931.
Fire history and vegetation pattern of coniferous forests in Jasper National Park, Alberta.CrossRef |

Taylor AH, Solem MN (2001) Fire regimes and stand dynamics in an upper montane forest landscape in the southern Cascades, Caribou Wilderness, California. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 128, 350–361.
Fire regimes and stand dynamics in an upper montane forest landscape in the southern Cascades, Caribou Wilderness, California.CrossRef |

Turner MG (2010) Disturbance and landscape dynamics in a changing world. Ecology 91, 2833–2849.
Disturbance and landscape dynamics in a changing world.CrossRef | 21058545PubMed |

Turner MG, Romme WH, Gardner RH, Hargrove WW (1997) Effects of fire size and pattern on early succession in Yellowstone National Park. Ecological Monographs 67, 411–433.
Effects of fire size and pattern on early succession in Yellowstone National Park.CrossRef |

Turner MG, Baker WL, Peterson CJ, Peet RK (1998) Factors influencing succession: lessons from large, infrequent natural disturbances. Ecosystems 1, 511–523.
Factors influencing succession: lessons from large, infrequent natural disturbances.CrossRef |

Turner MG, Romme WH, Gardner RH (1999) Prefire heterogeneity, fire severity, and early postfire plant reestablishment in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. International Journal of Wildland Fire 9, 21–36.
Prefire heterogeneity, fire severity, and early postfire plant reestablishment in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.CrossRef |

Van Wagner CE, Finney MA, Heathcott M (2006) Historical fire cycles in the Canadian Rocky Mountain parks. Forest Science 52, 704–717.

Veblen TT, Kitzberger T, Donnegan J (2000) Climatic and human influences on fire regimes in ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range. Ecological Applications 10, 1178–1195.
Climatic and human influences on fire regimes in ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range.CrossRef |

Watson E, Luckman BH (2001) Dendroclimatic reconstruction of precipitation for sites in the Canadian Rockies. The Holocene 11, 203–213.
Dendroclimatic reconstruction of precipitation for sites in the Canadian Rockies.CrossRef |

Watson E, Luckman BH (2004) Tree-ring based reconstructions of precipitation for the Southern Canadian Cordillera. Climatic Change 65, 209–241.
Tree-ring based reconstructions of precipitation for the Southern Canadian Cordillera.CrossRef |



Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (84 KB) Export Citation Cited By (2)

View Altmetrics