Ponderosa pine mortality following fire in northern Arizona

Charles W. McHugh, Thomas E. Kolb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Sampling of 1367 trees was conducted in the Side wildfire (4 May 1996), Bridger-Knoll wildfire (20 June 1996) and Dauber prescribed fire (9 September 1995) in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests (Pinus ponderosa). Tree mortality was assessed for 3 years after each fire. Three-year post-fire mortality was 32.4% in the Side wildfire, 18.0% in the Dauber prescribed fire, and 13.9% in the Bridger-Knoll wildfire. In the Dauber and Side fires, 95% and 94% of 3-year post-fire mortality occurred by year 2, versus 76% in the Bridger-Knoll wildfire. Compared with trees that lived for 3 years after fire, dead trees in all fires had more crown scorch, crown consumption, bole scorch, ground char, and bark beetle attacks. Logistic regression models were used to provide insight on factors associated with tree mortality after fire. A model using total crown damage by fire (scorch + consumption) and bole char severity as independent variables was the best two-variable model for predicting individual tree mortality for all fires. The amount of total crown damage associated with the onset of tree mortality decreased as bole char severity increased. Models using diameter at breast height (dbh) and crown volume damage suggested that tree mortality decreased as dbh increased in the Dauber prescribed fire where trees were smallest, and tree mortality increased as dbh increased in the Side and Bridger-Knoll wildfires where trees were largest. Moreover, a U-shaped dbh-mortality distribution for all fires suggested higher mortality for the smallest and largest trees compared with intermediate-size trees. We concluded that tree mortality is strongly influenced by interaction between crown damage and bole char severity, and differences in resistance to fire among different-sized trees can vary among sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-22
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Fire
  • Logistic regression
  • Mortality prediction model
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Tree mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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