Northwest CASC researchers studied the impacts of wildfire severity and climate change on tree species in the Northwest that rely on fire to release their seeds.
Understanding Tree Seedlings Response to Changing Fire Conditions in the Northwest
Serotinous trees in the Northwest rely on wildfires to release their seeds. Seedling growth and survival depends on a combination of high seed counts in the combs of mature trees and suitable growing conditions on the ground to establish themselves in. These conditions are met when the trees have sufficient time between fires to replenish their seed supply and favorable climate conditions after a fire.
Northwest CASC researchers examined how these factors influence the resiliency of forests in the Northwest by studying several populations of severely burned knobcone pine forests in Oregon and California. They found that the number of seeds stored in mature tree cones at the time of the fire played a bigger role than post-fire growing conditions when it came to tree regeneration.
Understanding the role of these factors for regeneration could help resource managers identify when and where these serotinous forests are most vulnerable as the climate changes.