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Project ID: 11-1-1-5

Year: 2011

Date Started: 06/01/2011

Date Completed: 03/20/2014

Title: Ten Years of Understory Plant Community Development Following the 2002 Hayman Fire, Colorado

Project Proposal Abstract: While scientists and managers are beginning to understand the short-term understory plant community response to wildfire, we still know very little about longer-term dynamics. Longer-term information on postfire understory response is especially needed in the Colorado Front Range, where the occurrence of unusually large and severe fires in ponderosa pine - dominated forests has increased dramatically since 2000. The largest and most severe of the Front Range fires, the 2002 Hayman Fire, burned over 55,800 hectares alone. Also burned in the Hayman Fire were 25 pre-existing 1000-m2 plots that had been surveyed for understory plant composition and cover in 1997. We subsequently examined the short-term impacts of this fire on understory plant communities by remeasuring the plots annually from 2003 to 2007. This work was partially funded by JFSP projects 03-2-3-08 and 04-2-1-118. The work proposed here will leverage this unique pre- and post-fire data set to assess the longer-term trends in understory plant community development in areas moderately and severely burned by the Hayman Fire relative to areas burned with low severity. Specifically, our objectives are to: (1) identify trends in understory plant community composition and structure with fire severity ten years following the Hayman Fire, and relate these trends to prefire and to initial postfire patterns; (2) assess the potential for exotic plant species to invade and persist in the Hayman Fire; and (3) investigate patterns of postfire tree seedling establishment relative to overstory mortality and distance from the nearest seed source. These objectives will be addressed by revisiting each of the 25 plots in 2012, ten years postfire, and repeating past understory measurements. Our findings will be communicated to multiple user groups using a variety of formats, including refereed publications, presentations, and field tours.

Principal Investigator: Paula J. Fornwalt

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Fort Collins

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Susan T. Major

Forest Service

RMRS-Rocky Mountain Research Station

Budget Contact

Edith M. Cates

Forest Service

RMRS-Rocky Mountain Research Station

Federal Cooperator

Paula J. Fornwalt

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Fort Collins

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Southern Rockies








Pike National Forest

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   3581 Journal Article Global Change Biology

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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