Landscape Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 465–486 | Cite as

Mixed-severity fire regime in a high-elevation forest of Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

  • Peter Z. Fulé
  • Joseph E. Crouse
  • Thomas A. Heinlein
  • Margaret M. Moore
  • W. Wallace Covington
  • Greg Verkamp
Article

Abstract

Fire regime characteristics of high-elevation forests on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, were reconstructed from fire scar analysis, remote sensing, tree age, and forest structure measurements, a first attempt at detailed reconstruction of the transition from surface to stand-replacing fire patterns in the Southwest. Tree densities and fire-/non-fire-initiated groups were highly mixed over the landscape, so distinct fire-created stands could not be delineated from satellite imagery or the oldest available aerial photos. Surface fires were common from 1700 to 1879 in the 4,400 ha site, especially on S and W aspects. Fire dates frequently coincided with fire dates measured at study sites at lower elevation, suggesting that pre-1880 fire sizes may have been very large. Large fires, those scarring 25% or more of the sample trees, were relatively infrequent, averaging 31 years between burns. Four of the five major regional fire years occurred in the 1700s, followed by a 94-year gap until 1879. Fires typically occurred in significantly dry years (Palmer Drought Stress Index), with severe drought in major regional fire years. Currently the forest is predominantly spruce-fir, mixed conifer, and aspen. In contrast, dendroecological reconstruction of past forest structure showed that the forest in 1880 was very open, corresponding closely with historical (1910) accounts of severe fires leaving partially denuded landscapes. Age structure and species composition were used to classify sampling points into fire-initiated and non-fire-initiated groups. Tree groups on nearly 60% of the plots were fire-initiated; the oldest such groups appeared to have originated after severe fires in 1782 or 1785. In 1880, all fire-initiated groups were less than 100 years old and nearly 25% of the groups were less than 20 years old. Non-fire-initiated groups were significantly older (oldest 262 years in 1880), dominated by ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, or white fir, and occurred preferentially on S and W slopes. The mixed-severity fire regime, transitioning from lower-elevation surface fires to mixed surface and stand-replacing fire at higher elevations, appeared not to have been stable over the temporal and spatial scales of this study. Information about historical fire regime and forest structure is valuable for managers but the information is probably less specific and stable for high-elevation forests than for low-elevation ponderosa pine forests.

Abies Age structure Fire ecology Fire scars Kaibab Plateau Picea Pinus Populus Pseudotsuga 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agee J.K. 1993. Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  2. Agee J.K. and Krusemark F. 2001. Forest fire regime of the Bull Run Watershed, Oregon. Northwest Science 75: 292–306.Google Scholar
  3. Allen C.D. 2002. Lots of lightning and plenty of people: an ecological history of fire in the upland Southwest. In: Vale T.R. (ed.), Fire, Native Peoples, and the Natural Landscape. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 143–193.Google Scholar
  4. Altschul J.H. and Fairley H.C. 1989. Man, models, and management: An overview of the archaeology of the Arizona Strip and the management of its cultural resources. USDA Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management Report contract # 53–8371–6–0054. submitted by Dames & Moore, Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Aplet G.H., Laven R.D. and Smith F.W. 1988. Patterns of community dynamics in Colorado Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir forests. Ecology 69: 312–319.Google Scholar
  6. Applequist M.B. 1958. A simple pith locator for use with off-center increment cores. Journal of Forestry 56: 141.Google Scholar
  7. Baker W.L. and Ehle D. 2001. Uncertainty in surface-fire history: the case of ponderosa pine forests in the western United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 31: 1205–1226.Google Scholar
  8. Baisan C.H. and Swetnam T.W. 1990. Fire history on a desert mountain range: Rincon Mountain Wilderness, Arizona, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 1559–1569.Google Scholar
  9. Beaty R.M. and Taylor A.H. 2001. Spatial and temporal variation of fire regimes in a mixed conifer forest landscape, Southern Cascades, California, USA. Journal of Biogeography 28: 955–966.Google Scholar
  10. Bertolette D. and Spotskey D. 2001. Remotely sensed burn severity mapping. In: Harmon D. (ed.), Crossing Boundaries in Park Management. Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Research and Resource Management in Parks and on Public Lands. The George Wright Society, Hancock, Michigan, USA, pp. 45–51.Google Scholar
  11. Cook E.R., Meko D.M., Stahle D.W. and Cleaveland M.K. 1996. Tree-ring reconstructions of past drought across the conterminous United States: tests of a regression method and calibration/ verification results. In: Dean J.S., Meko D.M. and Swetnam T.W. (eds), Tree Rings, Environment, and Humanity. Proceedings of the International Conference. Radiocarbon, Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA, pp. 155–170.Google Scholar
  12. Dieterich J.H. and Swetnam T.W. 1984. Dendrochronology of a fire-scarred ponderosa pine. Forest Science 30: 238–247.Google Scholar
  13. Foster D.R., Orwig D.A. and McLachlan J.S. 1996. Ecological and conservation insights from reconstructive studies of temperate old-growth forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11: 419–424.Google Scholar
  14. Fulé P.Z., Moore M.M. and Covington W.W. 1997. Determining reference conditions for ecosystem management in southwestern ponderosa pine forests. Ecological Applications 7: 895–908.Google Scholar
  15. Fulé P.Z., Heinlein T.A., Covington vW.W. and Moore M.M. 2000. Continuing fire regimes in remote forests of Grand Canyon National Park. In: Cole David N. and McCool Stephen F. (eds), Proceedings: Wilderness Science in a Time of Change. Proc. RMRS-P-15. USA Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, Utah, USA, pp. 242–248.Google Scholar
  16. Fulé P.Z., Covington W.W., Moore M.M., Heinlein T.A. and Waltz A.E.M. 2002. Natural variability in forests of Grand Canyon, USA. Journal of Biogeography 29: 31–47.Google Scholar
  17. Fulé P.Z., Heinlein T.A., Covington W.W. and Moore M.M. Assessing fire regimes on Grand Canyon landscapes with fire scar and fire record data. International Journal of Wildland Fire (in press).Google Scholar
  18. Ganey J.L. and Block W.M. 1994. A comparison of two techniques for measuring canopy closure. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 9: 21–23.Google Scholar
  19. Grissino-Mayer H.D. 1999. Modeling fire interval data from the American Southwest with the Weibull distribution. International Journal of Wildland Fire 9: 37–50.Google Scholar
  20. Grissino-Mayer H.D. 2001. FHX2-Software for analyzing temporal and spatial patterns in fire regimes from tree rings. Tree-Ring Research 57: 115–124.Google Scholar
  21. Grissino-Mayer H.D., Baisan C.H. and Swetnam T.W. 1995. Fire history in the Pinaleño Mountains of southeastern Arizona: effects of human-related disturbances. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RM-GTR-264. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.Google Scholar
  22. Habeck J.R. 1990. Old-growth ponderosa pine-western larch forests in western Montana: ecology and management. The Northwest Environmental Journal 6: 271–292.Google Scholar
  23. Hawksworth F.G. and Geils B.W. 1990. How long do mistletoeinfected ponderosa pines live? Western Journal of Applied Forestry 5: 47–48.Google Scholar
  24. Heinselmann M.L. 1973. Fire in the virgin forests of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota. Quaternary Research 18: 32–51.Google Scholar
  25. Holmes R.L. 1983. Computer-assisted quality control in tree-ring dating and measurement. Tree-Ring Bulletin 43: 69–78.Google Scholar
  26. Huffman D.W., Moore M.M., Covington W.W., Crouse J.E. and Fulé P.Z. 2001. Ponderosa pine forest reconstruction: comparisons with historical data. In: Vance G.K., Edminster C.B., Covington W.W. and Blake J.A. (eds), Ponderosa Pine Ecosystems Restoration and Conservation: Steps Toward Stewardship. Proc. RMRS-P-22. USA Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, Utah, USA, pp. 3–8.Google Scholar
  27. Johnson E.A. and Gutsell S.L. 1994. Fire frequency models, methods, and interpretations. Advances in Ecological Research 25: 239–287.Google Scholar
  28. Johnson E.A. and Miyanishi K. 2001. Forest Fires: Behavior and Ecological Effects. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.Google Scholar
  29. Kipfmueller K.F. and Baker W.L. 2000. A fire history of a subalpine forest in south-eastern Wyoming, USA. Journal of Biogeography 27: 71–85.Google Scholar
  30. Lang D.M. and Stewart S.S. 1910. Reconnaissance of the Kaibab National Forest. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, Unpublished report on file.Google Scholar
  31. Mast J.N., Fulé P.Z., Moore M.M., Covington W.W. and Waltz A. 1999. Restoration of presettlement age structure of an Arizona ponderosa pine forest. Ecological Applications 9: 228–239.Google Scholar
  32. Meko D., Stockton C.W. and Boggess W.R. 1995. The tree-ring record of severe sustained drought. Water Resources Bulletin 31: 789–801.Google Scholar
  33. Merkle J. 1954. An analysis of the spruce-fir community on the Kaibab Plateau, Arizona. Ecology 35: 316–322.Google Scholar
  34. Merkle J. 1962. Plant communities of the Grand Canyon area, Arizona. Ecology 43: 698–711.Google Scholar
  35. Minnich R.A., Barbour M.G., Burk J.H. and Sosa-Ramírez J. 2000. Californian mixed-conifer forests under unmanaged fire regimes in the Sierra San Pedro Mártir, Baja California, Mexico. Journal of Biogeography 27: 105–129.Google Scholar
  36. Mitchell J.E. and Freeman D.R. 1993. Wildlife-livestock-fire interactions on the North Kaibab: a historical review. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RM-222. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.Google Scholar
  37. Moore M.M. and Huffman D.W. Tree encroachment on meadows of the north rim Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA. Journal of Vegetation Science, In review (unpublished).Google Scholar
  38. Murray M.P., Bunting S.C. and Morgan P. 1998. Fire history of an isolated subalpine mountain range of the Intermountain Region, United States. Journal of Biogeography 25: 1071–1080.Google Scholar
  39. Niklasson M. and Granstrom A. 2000. Numbers and sizes of fires: long-term spatially explicit fire history in a Swedish boreal landscape. Ecology 81: 1484–1499.Google Scholar
  40. Rasmussen D.I. 1941. Biotic communities of Kaibab Plateau, Arizona. Ecological Monographs 11: 229–275.Google Scholar
  41. Reeberg P. 1995. The western region fire monitoring handbook. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report INT-GTR-320. Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, Utah, USA.Google Scholar
  42. Ripple W.J. and Larsen E.J. 2000. Historic aspen recruitment, elk, and wolves in northern Yellowstone National Park, USA. Biological Conservation 95: 361–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Salzer M.W. 2000. Dendroclimatology in the San Francisco Peaks Region of Northern Arizona, USA. PhD dissertation, The University of Arizona, Tucson.Google Scholar
  44. Stephens S.L. 2001. Fire history differences in adjacent Jeffrey pine and upper montane forests in the eastern Sierra Nevada. International Journal of Wildland Fire 10: 161–167.Google Scholar
  45. Stokes M.A. and Smiley T.L. 1968. An Introduction to Tree-Ring Dating. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA.Google Scholar
  46. Swetnam T.W. and Baisan C.H. 1996. Historical fire regime patterns in the southwestern United States since AD 1700. In: Allen C.D. (ed.), Proceedings of the 2nd La Mesa Fire Symposium. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RMGTR-286. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, pp. 11–32.Google Scholar
  47. Swetnam T.W., Allen C.D. and Betancourt J.L. 1999. Applied historical ecology: using the past to manage for the future. Ecological Applications 9: 1189–1206.Google Scholar
  48. Swetnam T.W., Baisan C.H. and Kaib J.M. 2001. Forest fire histories of the sky islands of La Frontera. In: Webster G.L. and Bahre C.J. (eds), Changing Plant Life of La Frontera. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, pp. 95–119.Google Scholar
  49. Taylor A.H. 2000. Fire regimes and forest change in mid and upper montane forests of the southern Cascades, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. Journal of Biogeography 27: 87–104.Google Scholar
  50. Thomas J.W., Anderson R.G., Maser C. and Bull E.L. 1979. Snags. In: Wildlife Habitats in Managed Forests-the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington. USDAAgricultural Handbook 553, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 60–77.Google Scholar
  51. USGS [United States Geological Survey] 2000. National Vegetation Classification Standard. http://biology.usgs.gov/npsveg/ nvcs.html. 1–14.Google Scholar
  52. Warren P.L., Reichardt K.L., Mouat D.A., Brown B.T. and Johnson R.R. 1982. Technical report no. 9. Vegetation of Grand Canyon National Park. National Park Service/University of Arizona, Contracts No. CX8210–7–0028 and CX8000–9–0033, Contribution No. 017/06. On file at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA.Google Scholar
  53. White A.S. 1985. Presettlement regeneration patterns in a southwestern ponderosa pine stand. Ecology 66: 589–594.Google Scholar
  54. White M.A. and Vankat J.L. 1993. Middle and high elevation coniferous forest communities of the North Rim region of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA. Vegetatio. 109: 161–174.Google Scholar
  55. Wolf J.J. and Mast J.N. 1998. Fire history of mixed-conifer forests on the North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Physical Geography 19: 1–14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Z. Fulé
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joseph E. Crouse
    • 1
  • Thomas A. Heinlein
    • 3
  • Margaret M. Moore
    • 2
  • W. Wallace Covington
    • 1
  • Greg Verkamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecological Restoration InstituteNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.School of ForestryNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  3. 3.National Park ServiceAnchorageUSA

Personalised recommendations