Scots pine Pinus sylvestris mortality after surface fire in oligotrophic pine forest Peucedano-Pinetum in Kampinos National Park
Zaniewski, Piotr T.
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Pines are generally fire-resistant trees. There is a shortage of research on the behaviour of Scots pine after surface fire in older stands. The aim of the work was to describe the effect of the surface fire intensity on the mortality of pines of various diameter at breast height (DBH), including older trees. The research was conducted in Peucedano-Pinetum oligotrophic Scots-pine forest in Kampinos National Park (KPN, central Poland) on the area of two adjacent surface fire sites originated in spring 2015 in 60- to 200-year-old stands (site area: 10,92 ha). There were 45 (28 burned and 17 control) permanent plots established after the fire. The share of not burned, superficially burned and completely burnout organic horizon of the soil was determined within all of them. DBH and location of pine trees were measured within all of the plots on the area of 200 m2. For all of the trees for which full information about soil organic horizon damage was mapped, the prevailing type of disturbance in their close neighbourhoods with radii of 1 and 2 m was assessed. The mortality of trees was assessed after each vegetation period up to 2017, basing on the presence of green needles on the trees. The influence of fire intensity on the survival of trees was examined on whole permanent plot level as well as on individual tree level. Strong linear correlation was observed between Scots pine mortality and the share of plots area with damaged organic layer, especially at the end of the third vegetation period after fire. Logistic regression models constructed for individual trees suggest that bigger tree diameter (hence, thicker bark) diminished the odds of mortality only after two vegetation periods from the fire. After the third vegetation period, only the intensity of surface fire in the close neighbourhood of trees influenced (negatively) the chance on survival. The size of trees did no matter in this case. Nearly all of the trees that were located within burnout organic matter areas died. The results did not support the commonly known mechanism of enhancement of bigger Scots pine tree survival after surface fire because of thicker bark responsible for heat protection. Probably, the main cause of observed mortality was not overheating of cambium but it was rather connected to massive fine root loses. Scots pines growing on oligotrophic arid sites modify their root system to explore topsoil layers with higher proportion of shallow roots, growing even in organic litter layer. This corresponds with massive (regardless of size) pine mortality within sites characterised by complete burnout of organic matter layer and very high survival in those ones with only surfacely burned litter layer. The results can improve the assessment of surface fires consequences in managed Scots pine stands growing in oligotrophic conditions.
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