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