Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 5:00 PM
Response of mixed Douglas-fir / Tanoak forests to different fire intensity/severity levels: implications for terrestrial salamanders and their habitats
Fire suppression activities in many forested ecosystems have dramatically altered stand structure and ensuing fire regimes of fire-dependent ecosystems. In the Pacific Northwest, the effect of fire suppression on stand structure and composition is likely to be most dramatic in fire- dependent systems characterized by short fire return intervals and mixed severity fire regimes. Prescribed burning has been identified as an effective management strategy to both reduce excessive fuel loadings (short-term) and successfully maintain (long-term) the fire-dependent mixed Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menzeseii)/ tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflora) forests of the Klamath/Siskiyou region. These forests are also the home to two endemic terrestrial salamanders (Plethodon spp.). We examined direct and indirect effects of wildland fire and prescribed burning activities on these resident terrestrial salamanders and their habitats. We examined different fire intensity/severity relationships on post-fire stand structure and composition in mixed Douglas-fir/tan oak forests. We developed a conceptual model of pre- and post-fire response profiles describing structure, composition, and distribution of vegetation, fuels, and salamander habitats. This information was combined with results from our salamander population studies to identify potential fire-mediated changes in important habitat components. Finally, stand-level dynamics resulting from the identified response profiles were explored to provide insights on potential fine- and coarse-scale impacts of fire as well as identify specific knowledge gaps in fire-salamander relationships.