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Early Revegetation and Nutrient Dynamics Following the 1971 Little Sioux Forest Fire in Northeastern Minnesota

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Three virgin plant communities dominated by Pinus banksiana, three by Populus-Betula, and one mixed community were studied over five growing seasons after burning in the 1971 Little Sioux Fire. From 1971 through 1975 tree and tall shrub reproduction generally decreased in density and increased in biomass. Low shrub cover and biomass increased for 3 years and then leveled off as tree and tall shrub competition increased. Herb cover and biomass increased most rapidly through 1972 and then slowed substantially. By 1975 total net primary productivity averaged 850 g/m²/yr for all seven stands, and over 1,200 g/m²/yr in the broadleaf-dominated stands. The forest floor 01 horizon increased in mass through 1974, and then apparently stabilized at about 620 g/m². The 02 horizon averaged about 1,000 g/m² and was still increasing in 1975. By the 1975 growing season the total amount of nutrients in aboveground vegetation on burned plots ranged from 33 percent of the N to 65 percent of the K found in nearby unburned forest communities. By 1973 the nutrients in the aboveground vegetation and the 01 horizon of the forest floor were greater than the quantity estimated to have been mobilized by the fire. The vegetation was an effective sink for the released nutrients.

Keywords: Betula papyrifera; Fire ecology; Pinus banksiana; Pinus strobus; Populus tremuloides; biomass; fire effects; net primary productivity; nutrient budget; vegetation reproduction; wilderness ecology

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Soil Science and Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108

Publication date: 1979-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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