Postfire seed rain of black spruce, a semiserotinous conifer, in forests of interior Alaska

Jill Johnstone, Leslie Boby, Emily Tissier, Michelle Mack, Dave Verbyla, Xanthe Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The availability of viable seed can act as an important constraint on plant regeneration following disturbance. This study presents data on seed quantity and quality for black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.), a semiserotinous conifer that dominates large areas of North American boreal forest. We sampled seed rain and viability for 2 years after fire (2005-2007) in 39 sites across interior Alaska that burned in 2004. All sites were dominated by black spruce before they burned. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the relative importance of prefire spruce abundance, topogra-phy effects, canopy fire severity, and distance to unburned stands in explaining variations in black spruce seed rain. Prefire basal area of spruce that remained standing after fire was a significant predictor of total seed rain, but seed viability was more strongly related to site elevation, canopy fire severity, and distances to unburned stands. Although positive relations between tree basal area and the size of the aerial seed bank may place a first constraint on seed availability, accurate prediction of postfire viable seed rain for serotinous conifers also requires consideration of the effects of abiotic stress and canopy fire severity on seed viability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1575-1588
Number of pages14
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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