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Silva Fennica 1926-1997
Acta Forestalia Fennica

Articles by Juho Pennanen

Category: Research article

article id 559, category Research article
Juho Pennanen. (2002). Forest age distribution under mixed-severity fire regimes – a simulation-based analysis for middle boreal Fennoscandia. Silva Fennica vol. 36 no. 1 article id 559.
Keywords: modeling; disturbance; age structure; forest fire; landscape
Abstract | View details | Full text in PDF | Author Info
A simulation model was used to study the age structure of unmanaged forest landscapes under different fire regimes. Stand age was defined as the age of the oldest tree cohort in a stand. When most fires are not stand-replacing, the theoretical equilibrium stand age distribution is either bell-shaped or bimodal and dominated by old age-classes. Old-growth forests (oldest cohort > 150 y) dominate the landscape unless fires are both frequent and severe. Simulation results and analytical calculations show that if a regime of frequent fires (about every 50 y) maintains landscapes dominated by old-growth forests, then old-growth dominance persists when the number of fires is decreased, despite the associated increase in fire severity. Simulation results were applied to Pinus sylvestris-dominated landscapes of middle boreal Fennoscandia, which according to empirical results were dominated by old-growth forests when fires were frequent during the 19th century. Since the changes in the fire regime can be plausibly explained by changes in the number of human-caused ignitions, old-growth forests have evidently also dominated the landscapes earlier when fires were less frequent. The simulation model is used to produce plausible age distributions of middle boreal Fennoscandian forest landscapes under different historical fire regimes. In summary, the frequency of large-scale disturbance alone predicts forest landscape dynamics poorly, and the roles played by fire severity and residual stands need to be considered carefully. Maintaining and restoring old-growth structures is essential to regaining the natural variability of Fennoscandian forest landscapes.
  • Pennanen, Department of Forest Ecology, P.O. Box 27, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland E-mail: (email)

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