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All images © J. Sibold
Updated 6/2010


FIRE HISTORY AND POST-FIRE REGENERATION OF ALERCE FORESTS,
COAST RANGE, SOUTH-CENTRAL CHILE


Dead-standing Alerce following a settlement-era fire
with a single surviving tree and patchy Alerce regeneration


Alerce stand, Valdivian Coastal Reserve

Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), is an endangered, extremely long-lived (>3,500 years) conifer species endemic to the Coastal and Andes Ranges of south-central Chile. Alerce is a key species in the Valdivian temperate rainforest ecosystem, a biodiversity hotspot with a high number of endemic species. As a result of habitat loss and projected climate change in the region, the World Wildlife Fund designated the Valdivian temperate rainforest as one of the ten most threatened ecosystems worldwide. In addition to the impacts of more recent habitat loss, most extant stands of Alerce are in various stages of recovery following extensive EuroChilean settlement-era fires. The goal of this project is to investigate fire history in Alerce dominated stands to provide information on the fire regime, fire-climate relationships, and the relationships between fire history and the current regeneration status of Alerce. This work is being conducted in the Alerce Coastal Reserve and Valdivian Coastal Reserve in the Coastal Range of south-central Chile.

Collaborators: Mauro González and Antonio Lara (Universidad Austral de Chile)

Support:
Fulbright Chile; FORECOS Institute, Universidad Austral de Chile; World Wildlife Fund; The Nature Conservancy

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THE INFLUENCE OF DISTURBANCE AND MANAGEMENT HISTORY ON MOUNTAIN PINE BEETLE OUTBREAK
SEVERITY AND STAND DEVELOPMENT, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO


Landscape patterns of MPB severity in relation to
differences in fire history, Shadow Mountain, RMNP


Post-MPB lodgepole pine and subalpine fir
establishment, West RMNP

Rocky Mountain National Park recently experienced a mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak of unprecedented scale and severity, the ecological legacies of which will influence the forest landscape for decades to centuries. Based on evidence from past bark beetle outbreaks it is clear that patterns of MPB outbreak severity and post-outbreak forest development are related to pre-outbreak stand characteristics, which are in turn associated with stand disturbance (e.g. fire, past MPB outbreaks) and management (e.g. thinning, prescribed fire) history. The goal of this research is to identify the role of disturbance and management histories in shaping patterns of outbreak severity and post-outbreak stand development trajectories in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Support: Rocky Mountain National Park, RM-CESU Grant, DOI.

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FOREST DISTURBANCE ECOLOGY OF GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA

Glacier NP
Post-fire western larch-lodgepole pine forests, Glacier National Park

Since the 1970s Glacier National Park has experienced many extensive high-severity ecological disturbance events including a mountain pine beetle outbreak and numerous fires. These events have dramatically reshaped the forest landscape of the park. Our current research in Glacier NP seeks to identify how interactions among land-use practices, climate variability and change, and disturbance characteristics (type, frequency and severity) shape patterns of disturbance spread and severity, and post-disturbance stand development.

Collaborator: Dennis Divoky, Fire Ecologist, Glacier National Park

Support: National Park Service, RM-CESU, DOI; Jerry O’Neal Fellowship, National Park Service (awarded to Ali Urza); The American Alpine Club Research Grant (awarded to Ali Urza).

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REGENERATION DYNAMICS AND STATUS OF ISOLATED PONDEROSA PINE STANDS ON THE WESTERN SLOPE
OF THE NORTHERN COLORADO FRONT RANGE


Ponderosa pine seedling, west slope,
Northern Front Range


MPB-killed ponderosa pine, west slope,
Northern Front Range

Ponderosa pine is a common species in the montane and upper montane forests of the eastern slope of the Northern Colorado Front Range but is extremely rare on the western slope of the range. The combination of the rarity of ponderosa pine on the western slope and the high severity of the recent mountain pine beetle outbreak in the region suggests that ponderosa is at risk of local extinction. The goal of this research project is to identify the relationship between ponderosa pine establishment and disturbance events including fires and insect outbreaks (mountain pine beetle and spruce budworm), and climate variability and survey the current status of the species on the west slope of the Northern Colorado Front Range.

Collaborator: Jenny Briggs, USGS, Lakewood, CO

Support: US Geological Survey; Rocky Mountain National Park, RM-CESU, DOI.

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PRE-SETTLEMENT FIRE PATTERNS: RECORDS OF NATURAL FIRE OR ANTHROPOGENIC FIRE USE?


Ecosystem management goals of restoring or maintaining natural patterns of fire are dependent on the ability to identify natural fire regimes. However, the identification of natural fire regimes is predicated on the untested assumption that fire history reflects natural patterns of fire in contrast to Native American fire use. The goal of this project is to develop and test a methodology to identify Native American fire use influences on fire occurrence in the pre-EuroAmerican settlement era (ca. 1700-1860). Our study areas for this project include the Northern Colorado Front Range, Northwest Montana and the Andes of south-central Chile.

Collaborators: Mauro González (Universidad Austral de Chile), Laurie Huckaby (Rocky Mountain Research Station, USFS), Jason LaBelle (Colorado State University), Maria Nieves Zedeño (University of Arizona)

Support: Joint Fire Science Program

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