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Influence of tree size, reduced competition, and climate on the growth response of Pinus nigra Arn. salzmannii after fire



After wildfire, surviving trees are of major ecological importance as they can help in the post-fire regeneration process. Although these trees may be damaged, they may also benefit from reduced fuel hazard and competition. However, little is known about the long-term growth response of surviving trees.


This study aims to explain short- to long-term variations in the postfire growth of surviving black pines in an area burnt in 1994, focusing on levels of fire severity and tree sizes.


Relative basal area increments were used to detect time-course variations in postfire radial tree growth depending on fire severity. Linear mixed-effects models were used to describe the factors affecting postfire ring growth.


In the short term, fire caused stronger reduction in growth in small trees with increasing bole char height. However, as time since fire increased, a positive effect of fire on growth due to reduced competition counteracted the short-term fire impacts. Indeed, small surviving trees demonstrated a surge in growth 15 years after the fire.


It was concluded that reduced competition might offset the short-term negative effects of fire in surviving black pines.

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We thank Dr. Miquel de Cáceres and Dr. J.J Camarero for their useful comments and Mario Beltrán for producing some of the figures. We are also grateful to Asier Larrañaga and the GRAF team for their help in identifying the study zone, and Martín Muller and Marta Vegas who assisted in the field work. This study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under the framework of the ForBurn project (AGL2012-40098-C03-01). José-Ramón González-Olabarria also acknowledges the Ramon y Cajal program of the Spanish Ministry for Economy for providing financial support.

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Correspondence to Teresa Valor.

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Handling Editor: Eric Rigolot

Contribution of the co-authors

Míriam Piqué coordinated the research project, contributed in the design of the experiment, and supervised the work. Bernat C. López aided with the data analysis and the supervision of the manuscript. José Ramón González-Olabarria contributed in designing the experiment, running the data analysis, and writing the paper.

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Valor, T., Piqué, M., López, B.C. et al. Influence of tree size, reduced competition, and climate on the growth response of Pinus nigra Arn. salzmannii after fire. Annals of Forest Science 70, 503–513 (2013).

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  • Postfire growth
  • Black pine
  • Low-intensity fire
  • Surface fire
  • Dendrochronology
  • Fire effects
  • Long-term growth