The structure and dynamics of Abies magnifica forests in the southern Cascade Range, USA

Alan H. Taylor, Charles B. Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abies magnifica (Red fir) forests in the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada of California are composed of groups, or patches, of even‐sized individuals that form structurally complex stands. Patches may be even‐aged, resulting from synchronous post‐disturbance establishment, or multi‐aged, reflecting continuous recruitment of seedlings moderately tolerant of shade. We analyze the population structure (i.e. age, size, and spatial patterning) of A magnifica, and associated A concolor, White fir, and reconstruct the disturbance history of two mature to old‐growth A. magnifica forests in order to determine the relationship between disturbance and forest structure. Within both stands examined, the distributions of A. magnifica seedlings, saplings, and small understory trees were clumped, with clump sizes corresponding to the area of canopy gaps. Gaps were created by frequent wildfire (mean fire return interval of 41 yr) and by windstorms. Severe fire initiated mass establishment of Abies magnifica, whereas gaps created by windthrowreleasedalreadyestablishedindividuals. Lowinten‐sity fire stimulated little recruitment, but Red fir established continuously during fire‐free intervals. Thus, the complex age and structures of Red fir forests reflect both episodic and continuous recruitment, as determined by the type and severity of natural disturbance. 1991 IAVS ‐ the International Association of Vegetation Science

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-200
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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