Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (2.0 MB)

Title: Persistent effects of fire severity on early successional forests in interior Alaska

Author: Shenoy, Aditi; Johnstone, Jill F.; Kasischke, Eric S.; Kielland, Knut.;

Date: 2011

Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 261: 381-390

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: There has been a recent increase in the frequency and extent of wildfires in interior Alaska, and this trend is predicted to continue under a warming climate. Although less well documented, corresponding increases in fire severity are expected. Previous research from boreal forests in Alaska and western Canada indicate that severe fire promotes the recruitment of deciduous tree species and decreases the relative abundance of black spruce (Picea mariana) immediately after fire. Here we extend these observations by (1) examining changes in patterns of aspen and spruce density and biomass that occurred during the first two decades of post-fire succession, and (2) comparing patterns of tree composition in relation to variations in post-fire organic layer depth in four burned black spruce forests in interior Alaska after 10-20 years of succession. We found that initial effects of fire severity on recruitment and establishment of aspen and black spruce were maintained by subsequent effects of organic layer depth and initial plant biomass on plant growth during post-fire succession. The proportional contribution of aspen (Populus tremuloides) to total stand biomass remained above 90% during the first and second decades of succession in severely burned sites, while in lightly burned sites the proportional contribution of aspen was reduced due to a 40-fold increase in spruce biomass in these sites. Relationships between organic layer depth and stem density and biomass were consistently negative for aspen, and positive or neutral for black spruce in all four burns. Our results suggest that initial effects of post-fire organic layer depths on deciduous recruitment are likely to translate into a prolonged phase of deciduous dominance during post-fire succession in severely burned stands. This shift in vegetation distribution has important implications for climate-albedo feedbacks, future fire regime, wildlife habitat quality and natural resources for indigenous subsistence activities in interior Alaska.

Keywords: boreal forest, soil organic layer, Picea mariana, Populus tremuloides, self-thinning

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Shenoy, Aditi; Johnstone, Jill F.; Kasischke, Eric S.; Kielland, Knut. 2011. Persistent effects of fire severity on early successional forests in interior Alaska. Forest Ecology and Management. 261: 381-390.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.