Mexican mixed-species forest shows resilience to high-intensity fire

Alicia Azpeleta Tarancón, Peter Z. Fulé, Abel García Arévalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the aftermath of a high-intensity wildfire in La Michilía Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, an initial study suggested a shift from an oak–pine forest to a grass–savanna ecosystem. We conducted repeated measurements on 60 permanent plots 1, 5, 10, and 20 years after the original wildfire at paired burned and unburned study sites to capture spatial and temporal dynamics in forest composition and structure. We found that the burned site regained most pre-wildfire characteristics two decades after the wildfire. The ongoing regeneration in the burned site suggests that despite the remaining differences, the site is approaching a complete recovery, with forest characteristics analogous to the unburned site. Our findings indicate that the combination of seeders’ wildfire resistance and resprouters’ post-wildfire sprouting strategies in mixed-species forests provides high resilience to high-intensity wildfire. Moreover, protecting La Michilía as a biosphere reserve and heightened public awareness of the natural environment likely played an indispensable role in facilitating the recovery of the post-wildfire ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-511
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume54
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • climate
  • oak–pine forest
  • repeated measures
  • seeding
  • sprouting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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