Post-fire effects and short-term regeneration dynamics following high-severity crown fires in a Mediterranean forest
iForest : Biogeosciences and Forestry
© iForest -Biogeosciences and Forestry © SISEF http://www.sisef.it/iforest/ 93 iForest (2012) 5: 93-100 Citation: Marzano R, Lingua E, Garbarino M, 2012. Post-fire effects and short-term regeneration dynamics following highseverity crown fires in a Mediterranean forest. iForest 5: 93-100 [online 2012-05-30] Resilience against fire disturbance of Mediterranean vegetation has been frequently described. However, due to climatic change and abandonment of local land use practices, the fire regime is
... the fire regime is changing, probably leading to higher intensities and frequencies of disturbance events. The forthcoming scenario calls for a full understanding of post-disturbance tree recruitment processes, structural resilience and possible consequences on the overall forest biodiversity. In particular, knowledge on severe crown fires' effects on forest stand structural attributes needs to be further explored. In this work, we describe and quantify fire impact and short-term response of a Mediterranean forest affected by high severity crown fires, focusing on the compositional and structural diversity of living and dead trees, spatial pattern of fire-induced mortality, recovery dynamics of tree species. The analysis, based on a synchronic approach, was carried out within four burned and two not burned fully stem-mapped research plots located in NW Italy, belonging to two forest categories differing for their main tree restoration strategies. Distance-dependent and distance-independent indices were applied to assess structural diversity dynamics over time since fire occurrence. Within the analyzed forests fire was found to affect mostly forest structure rather than its composition. Number of snags largely increases immediately after the fire, but it levels off due to their fall dynamics. Regeneration strategies and fire severity influenced species abundance and consequently diversity patterns. Stem diameter and height diversity were modified as well, with a strong increase in the first post-fire year and a sharp reduction six years after the disturbance. Fire determined also a higher heterogeneity in crown cover and vertical structure. Spatial patterns of surviving trees and snags were greatly affected by fire, producing an increase in aggregation and segregation mechanisms. Autosuccessional processes are supposed to preserve current forest structure and composition, but the ecosystem selfrestoring capability should be analyzed in the light of the possible changes in fire regime.