Research Branch

See below to download Technical Report 026 PDF file.

Vegetation Development and Fire Effects at the Walker Creek Site: Comparison of Forest Floor and Mineral Soil Plots

Author(s) or contact(s): E.H. Hamilton
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Vegetation Management
Series: Technical Report
Other details:  Published 2006. Hardcopy is available.


The objective of this study was to quantify the response of vegetation on a cutblock in the SBSvk subzone under known burning conditions by monitoring fire weather, fire effects, and vegetation development. Vegetation succession on forest floor and mineral soil (skid roads) permanent sample plots was monitored.

Standard fire weather information was collected along with fuel loading and forest floor layer depths (i.e., litter and duff 2 layer depth) before and after burning to characterize the fire effects and burning conditions. Methods outlined in the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System (CFFWIS) were used.

The observed fire effects (duff and woody fuel consumption and mineral soil exposure) were compared to those predicted when the Prescribed Fire Predictor was used in conjunction with the CFFWIS predictions of Duff Moisture Code (DMC) and duff moisture level (DML) derived from sampling the duff at the time of burning.

Cover and height of vascular species was monitored in 147 permanent sampling plots for 10 years. Mode of establishment of species was determined where possible.

The equation devised by Lawson, Dalrymple, and Hawkes in 1997 for pine/spruce-feathermoss sites in the Yukon approximated the DMC and DML relationship found on this site. The DML was accurately predicted by the CFFWIS. Actual duff consumption and mineral soil exposure were significantly lower than predicted and woody fuel consumption was greater than predicted. These discrepancies reflect the limitations of the Prescribed Fire Predictor on this site under the conditions in which the burn was done.

There were 32 vascular plant species on the forest floor plots prior to burning. By the tenth year after burning, there were 74 species. There were 13 vascular plant species in the mineral soil plots before burning and 52 by year 10. Many herb and shrub species established on the mineral soil plots in the first year after burning.

Most of the species that were present on the site as a whole before burning survived until year 10. In addition, a number of new species became established. Some of these were invasive species typical of early seral sites; however, many were species typical of forested stands.

Five shrub species established from buried seeds in a number of the plots. All of these species were present as parent plants on the site before burning, including Ribes and Rubus species, and Sambucus racemosa. All shrubs, and almost all herbs, present before burning resprouted after burning. Three new species of hardwood trees established in the plots after burning, as well as two new species of shrubs and 33 new species of herbs.

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Updated May 11, 2007