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Fire history of pinyon–juniper woodlands at upper ecotones with ponderosa pine forests in Arizona and New Mexico

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We used maps of fire evidence, fire scar dendrochronology, forest age-structure analysis, and landscape analysis to investigate fire history at pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.)–juniper (Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little, Juniperus scopulorum Sarg.) woodland–ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson) forest ecotones in Arizona (Tusayan) and in New Mexico (Canjilon). Results showed that charred trees were not evenly distributed across vegetative communities but were significantly (p< 0.001) more abundant than expected in ponderosa pine communities. Composite fire scar analysis indicated that surface fires occurred in ponderosa pine stands at both sites and burned at intervals of 7.2–11.1years (WMPI; Weibull median probability interval). At Tusayan, landscape structure was fine grained, and maximum pinyon age was>200years across 80% of the site. At Canjilon, landscape pattern was relatively coarse, and most pinyon patches were 200–300years old. Cumulative standing age distributions suggested pinyon–juniper fire rotations of 340 and 290years at Tusayan and Canjilon, respectively. We concluded the following: (i) surface fires in ponderosa pine stands did not spread through pinyon–juniper communities at either site, (ii) fire evidence was prevalent across both sites, but old pinyon trees indicated that no widespread lethal fires had occurred in the last 300–400years, and (iii) structurally heterogeneous landscapes suggested that historical pinyon–juniper fires were of limited extent but lethal in patches.

Nous avons utilisé la cartographie des feux, la dendrochronologie des cicatrices de feu, l’analyse de la structure d’âge de la forêt et l’analyse du paysage pour étudier l’historique des feux, en Arizona (Tusayan) et au Nouveau-Mexique (Canjilon), dans l’écotone entre la forêt claire de pinyon (Pinus edulis Engelm.)–genévrier (Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little, Juniperus monosperma (Engelm.) Sarg.) et la forêt de pin ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson). Les résultats ont montré que les arbres calcinés n’étaient pas régulièrement distribués parmi les communautés végétales mais étaient significativement (p < 0,001) plus abondants que prévu dans les communautés de pin ponderosa. L’analyse composite des cicatrices de feu a montré que des feux de surface sont survenus dans les peuplements de pin ponderosa aux deux endroits à des intervalles de 7,2 à 22,5 ans (intervalle médian de probabilité de Weibull). À Tusayan, la structure du paysage était fine et l’âge maximum du pinyon était supérieur à 200 ans sur 80% de la station. À Canjilon, la structure du paysage était relativement grossière et la plupart des bouquets de pinyon avaient 200 à 300 ans. Selon les distributions cumulatives de l’âge des arbres sur pied, la rotation des feux dans la forêt claire de pinyon–genévrier était respectivement de 340 et 290 ans à Tusayan et Canjilon. Nous tirons les conclusions suivantes: (i) les feux de surface dans les peuplements de pin ponderosa ne se sont pas propagés dans les communautés de pinyon–genévrier à ni l’un ni l’autre des endroits, (ii) les indices de feux étaient répandus aux deux endroits mais les vieilles tiges de pinyon indiquaient qu’aucun feu létal de grande envergure n’était survenu au cours des 300 à 400 dernières années et (iii) des paysages structurellement hétérogènes indiquaient que les feux dans la forêt claire de pinyon–genévrier ont été dans le passé limités en étendue mais létaux par bouquets.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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