The Ecological Fole of fire in Sierran Conifer Forests - abstract

Wisps of smoke rise above a prescribed burn in a giant sequoia forest.

Tony Caprio Photo

The Ecological Role of Fire in Sierran Conifer Forests: Its Application to National Park Management. B.M. Kilgore. 1973. Quaternary Research 3:496-513.

The impact of fire on variousSierran conifer forests varies with intensity and frequency. Generally,fire (1) prepares a seedbed; (2) cycles nutrients within the system;(3) adjusts the successional pattern; (4) modifies conditions affectingwildlife; (5) influences the mosaic of age classes and vegetationtypes; (6) alters numbers of trees susceptible to disease and insects;and (7) both reduces and creates fire hazards. Natural fire frequencyapparently coincides with levels of fuel accumulations that result inburns of relatively low intensity at frequent intervals. This mayaverage 8 yr in mixed conifer forests, although frequencies from 4 to20 yr or more are found at particular sites. Giant sequoia and variouspine species of the Sierra survive today because of the role fire playsin the various forest types.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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