High-severity fire reduces early successional boreal larch forest aboveground productivity by shifting stand density in north-eastern China

Wen H. Cai, Jian Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Climate warming is predicted to increase fire activity across the Eurasian boreal larch forest in the 21st century, which could have serious consequences on carbon storage. Quantifying the effects of fire disturbance on forest structure and aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) could aid in our ability to predict future carbon storage on a regional and biome level. In this study, we examined the spatial heterogeneity of forest structure and ANPP on sites of varying fire severity and topographic position in a recently burned landscape in the Great Xing'an Mountains, China. Results indicated that after 11 years of vegetation regrowth, fire severity significantly affected forest regeneration ANPP. Spatial heterogeneities in forest regeneration ANPP were explained by both tree sapling density and understorey vegetation abundance. Although understorey vegetation productivity on average contributed 50% of total ANPP after fire, the increase in understorey productivity with fire severity could not offset the decrease in tree productivity in severely burned stands where tree sapling density was limited. Our results suggest that high-severity fire can decrease forest regeneration ANPP by altering forest structure in the early post-fire successional stage and that this shift in forest structure may influence future forest productivity trajectories over an extended period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-875
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume25
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© IAWF 2016.

Keywords

  • carbon
  • fire disturbance
  • net primary production
  • structural equation model.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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