Following wildfire, plant communities may recover to pre-fire states, or remain altered in structure and function. I quantified fire severity's influence on vegetation in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona. I sampled tree and shrub species in plots using a stratified random design across fire severities in five forested communities. I reconstructed pre-fire conditions for comparison. Data from a 1984 (pre-fire) study were used to substantiate these reconstructions and establish pre-fire shrub species cover. I performed nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMS) and ordination, which confirmed overstory pre-fire reconstructions. Tree composition in higher severity plots diverged from pre-fire plots in all but oak/ pinyon/juniper community. Ordination of shrub components indicated novel configurations. Intermixing of upper- elevation tree communities with those historically confined to lower elevation suggests fire has disrupted vegetation inertia, initiating novel ecological change. Re-structuring is consistent with projections that interactions of disturbance and climate change facilitate movement to higher elevation zones.
|Advisor:||Falk, Donald A.|
|Commitee:||Archer, Steven, Malusa, Jim|
|School:||The University of Arizona|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||MAI 54/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Natural Resource Management|
|Keywords:||Fire ecology, Fire effects, Forestry, Plant ecology|
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