Canadian Forest Service Publications

The interaction between masting and fire is key to white spruce regeneration. 2005. Peters, V.S.; Macdonald, S.E.; Dale, M.R.T. Ecology 86(7): 1744–1750.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25493

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

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We used the mast-seeding tree Picea glauca (white spruce) to examine whether the timing of mast years relative to fire had a lasting effect on the density and timing of regeneration. We studied 17 fires that occurred in mast years and in years with low cone production between 1941 and 1994. Trees were carefully aged by crossdating procedures. Over the 59-yr. period studied, there was significantly more regeneration after fires that occurred in mast years than after fires that occurred in years of low cone production. Spruce density was significantly lower after fires that occurred 1–3 years before a mast year than after fires during mast years. The cohort of trees that regenerated in the first mast year after a fire was critical to white spruce regeneration for fires that occurred 0–1 year before a mast year, but mast years occurring three or more years after a fire contributed few recruits. Our results suggest that masting is a key process that interacts with fire to shape stand composition in boreal mixedwoods. For species like white spruce, for which establishment is linked to disturbance, masting may have a contingent, historical effect on succession and landscape structure.