Increased Wildfire Frequency Threatening Black Spruce Forest Survival

Increased wild fire frequency threatens the survival of northern black spruce forests.  That’s the finding of recently published research from the Yukon Territory. That’s the finding of recently published research from the Yukon Territory.  Sherbrook University biologist Carissa Brown’s doctoral project looked at black spruce regeneration in burn areas.  The trees depend on wild fire to stimulate seed release, a cycle based on 80 to 100 year wild fire intervals.  Brown says as fire frequency increases closer to
15 year intervals, there’s not enough time for new trees to mature and produce seed cones.

The increase in wildfire interval is associated with climate warming that’s been presumed to spread trees farther north, but brown says her research on test plots of trees in the Northern Yukon, suggests that may not be the case.  Brown says the demise of black spruce also has the potential to accelerate warming, because the boreal forest, and underlying permafrost soil it covers, hold vast stores of carbon.

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