Abrupt fire regime change may cause landscape-wide loss of mature obligate seeder forests

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Obligate seeder trees, like Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis), requiring high-severity fires to regenerate may be vulnerable to population collapse if fire frequency increases abruptly.

We tested this proposition using a long-lived obligate seeding forest tree, alpine ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis), in the Australian Alps.

Since 2002, 85% of the Alps bioregion has been burnt by several very large fires, tracking the regional trend of more frequent extreme fire weather. High-severity fires removed 25% of aboveground tree biomass, and switched fuel arrays from low loads of herbaceous and litter fuels to high loads of flammable shrubs and juvenile trees, priming regenerating stands for subsequent fires. Single high-severity fires caused adult mortality and triggered mass regeneration, but a second fire in quick succession killed 97% of the regenerating alpine ash.

Our results indicate that without interventions to reduce fire severity, interactions between flammability of regenerating stands and increased extreme fire weather will eliminate much of the remaining mature alpine ash forest.

Article first published online: 28 Jan 2014

Volume 20Issue 3pages 1008–1015March 2014 DOI:101111/gcb.12433

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12433/abstract  

The article is copyright to Global Change Biology.

To request a copy from the author, please contact: David Bowman at David.Bowman@utas.edu.au

 

Bibliography Entry

Type of Publication Journal Article
Year of Publication 2014
Authors Bowman DMJS, Murphy BP, Neyland DLJ, Williamson GJ, Prior LD
Volume 20
Issue 3
Pagination 1008 - 1015
Date Published 03/2014
Journal Global Change Biology
This page was last updated on July 9, 2014