The Structure of Northern Siberian Spruce–Scots Pine Forests at Different Stages of Post-Fire Succession
The process of post-fire recovery in mixed Siberian spruce–Scots pine forests (Picea obovata Ledeb.-Pinus sylvestris L.), typical for the European North-West, was studied in the Kola peninsula (Russia). We used the spatial–temporal approach to reveal the size structure (diameter at breast height (DBH) distribution) and vital state of Siberian spruce and Scots pine stands, tree regeneration and species structure of the dwarf shrub–herb and lichen–moss layers at different stages of post-fire
... s of post-fire succession (8–380 years after the fire). It was found that in both forest-forming species, the process of stand stratification results in the allocation of two size groups of trees. In Siberian spruce, these groups persist throughout the succession. In Scots pine, DBH distributions become more homogeneous at the middle of succession (150–200 years after the fire) due to the extinction of small-size individuals. Siberian spruce stands are dominated by moderately and strongly weakened trees at all succession stages. The vitality status of Scots pine stands is higher compared to Siberian spruce up to 150 years after a fire. The dynamics of regeneration activity is similar in both species, with a minimum at the middle of the restoration period. The results indicate that in Siberian spruce–Scots pine forests, the stand structure and regeneration activity differs substantially in the first half of succession (up to 200 years after the fire) and become similar in the late-succession community. The study of lower layers revealed that the cover of moss–lichen and dwarf shrub–herb layers stabilize 150 years after a fire. Changes in species structure in both layers are observed until the late stage of succession. The originality of the structure and dynamics of mixed Siberian spruce–Scots pine forests is revealed based on a comparison with pure Siberian spruce forests in the same region.