European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 401–409 | Cite as

Fall rate of burnt pines across an elevational gradient in a Mediterranean mountain

  • Carlos R. Molinas-GonzálezEmail author
  • Alexandro B. Leverkus
  • Sara Marañón-Jiménez
  • Jorge Castro
Original Paper


Burnt wood remaining after a wildfire is a biological legacy with important implications for habitat structure, ecosystem regeneration, and post-fire management. Knowledge of the time required for snags to fall is thus a key aspect for planning forest restoration. In this study, we analyze the fall rate of burnt trees in a Mediterranean pine reforestation. Three plots of 18–32 ha were established after a fire across an elevational gradient spanning from 1400 to 2100 m a.s.l., and snag fall rate was measured on a yearly basis using an experimental setup that considered two levels of a thinning treatment: unthinned (where no post-fire management was conducted and all the snags were left standing after the fire) and thinned (where 90% of the trees were cut after the fire and left on the ground). All the snags remained standing during the first and second winter, and thereafter, they collapsed quickly until reaching 100% after 5.5 years. Snags in low-density stands resulting from thinning fell faster than in unthinned stands, but the differences were minor. There was a negative effect of tree diameter on the rate of collapse, especially in the unthinned treatment, but the effect of diameter was minor too. There was no effect of the elevational gradient on fall rate despite patent differences in climatic conditions and pine species across plots. The results support the contention that post-fire fall rate in dense pine plantations in Mediterranean mountains can occur quickly after the second winter and may show little variation across environmental gradients.


Standing dead trees Tree fall rate Burnt wood Pine plantation Post-disturbance management Post-fire dynamics 



We thank the Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, and the Direction of the Natural and National Park of Sierra Nevada, for fieldwork permission, constant support, and facilities. This study was supported by Project 10/2005 from the Organismo Autónomo de Parques Nacionales (Spanish Government), CGL2008-01671 from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, and P12-RNM-2705 from Junta de Andalucía. AL acknowledges postdoctoral funding from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (FJCI-2015-23687) and project GEISpain (CGL2014-52838-C2-1-R; funded by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, incl. European Union ERDF funds). S.M.J. acknowledges postdoctoral funding from Andalucía Talent Hub Program, co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (COFUND - Grant Agreement 291780) and the Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment of the Junta de Andalucía. CRM had a Ph.D. grant from the National University of Asunción (Paraguay) and Carolina Foundation (Spain).

Supplementary material

10342_2017_1040_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 5265 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencias de la VidaUniversidad de AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Física Aplicada, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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