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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #323017

Title: What’s still hot?: Cross-ecosystem diversity responses a decade after fire

item Newingham, Beth
item SMITH, APRIL - University Of Nevada
item HUDAK, ANDY - Us Forest Service (FS)

Submitted to: Fire Ecology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only.

Technical Abstract: The intermediate disturbance hypothesis predicts plant diversity to be highest after fire with moderate burn severity. Previous studies have found variable effects of burn severity on plant diversity in the short-term; however, little is known about long-term (~10 years) plant community responses to burn severity across community types. We examined decadal diversity responses to fire across seven fires in conifer/oak/chaparral, ponderosa pine, and mixed coniferous (dry and moist) forest ecosystems. Percent cover of each species was determined via ocular estimation at sites within each fire across gradients of burn severity, elevation, and aspect. Diversity across and among functional groups (forb, grass, shrub, tree) was estimated using Hill numbers. Although burn severity did not affect grass or tree diversity, it significantly increased forb and shrub diversity. Shrub diversity was also affected by the interaction among burn severity and elevation. Tree diversity was primarily affected by the abiotic factors of elevation and aspect. Our data suggest that 1) not all functional groups respond similarly to burn severity, elevation, and aspect, and 2) the effects of burn severity, elevation, and aspect are still realized a decade after fire. These results provide well-needed information on long-term effects of fire on plant diversity.