Session: Fire-Vegetation Interactions and Ecosystem Resilience in a Warmer World
Wildfire-catalyzed forest conversion and metrics of regeneration failure
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Camille Stevens-Rumann, Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, Jonathan Coop, Western Colorado University, Gunnison, CO, Sean Parks, Rocky Mountain Research Station, US Forest Service, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Missoula, MT and Susan Prichard, University of Washington
Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO, USA
Background/Question/Methods Wildfires and climate can overcome forest ecosystem resilience, especially as fire regimes alter patterns and severity of wildfires. Rapid climatic change coupled with high-severity fire events has the potential to lead to marked shifts in forest composition and tree regeneration. Forest conversions have already begun and are expected to be particularly pronounced in forests at their edge range. In these areas two scenarios may play out, first longer growing seasons and snow-free periods can facilitate regeneration into higher elevation areas such as alpine meadows/tundra, but alternately extended periods of water deficit leading to regeneration failures and vegetation type changes. Identifying and quantifying ecosystem conversion can be difficult, and metrics across ecosystems are critical, here we focus on several metrics. Results/Conclusions We describe post-fire forest conversion literature in western North America, including focusing on several key ecosystems where conversion are occurring and the metrics associated with this conversion. Integrating adaptive management approaches to post-fire landscapes will be critical in the resistance against conversion and acceptance of conversion in some areas is needed at all levels of policy and management to promote healthy, functioning ecosystems even in the face of ecosystem conversion.