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A cross-dated fire history from coast redwood near Redwood National Park, California



A cross-dated fire history from coast redwood near Redwood National Park, California



Canadian Journal of Forest Research 24(1): 21-31



Cross sections from coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens (D.Don.)Endl.) in and near Redwood National Park were dendrochronologically cross-dated and used to develop a fire history from 1714 to 1985. A master chronology for the study area was first developed from old-growth trees and provided dating control for fire-scarred samples. Redwood offers a challenge for dendrochronology owing to partially absent rings (ring wedging) and uniform ring widths (complacency). Cross dating was successful in portions of 12 of 24 fire-scarred trees. Fire events were dated by noting the position of fire scars and other fire-associated ring structures (resin ducts, double latewood, growth releases, and ring separations) in the cross-dated ring series. Using only dates of fire scars, the mean fire interval (MFI) was 9.9 years from the first recorded fire in 1714 to the last in 1962. The MFI was 8.0 years for the best represented (greatest sample depth) presettlement period from 1714 to 1881. Using dates for all fire-associated ring features, the MFI from 1714 to 1962 was 7.0 years and from 1714 to 1881 was 6.0 years. Use of all fire-associated ring characteristics is argued to be a more complete representation of past fire frequency due to possible under-representation of fire-scar records from stump-top samples. Based upon scar positions within annual rings, fires occurred predominately late in the growing season or after growth ceased for the year. The mean fire intervals determined are shorter than those reported in all except one other fire history study from coast redwood and suggest that fire frequency in redwood may have been underestimated in many past studies.

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Accession: 002283151

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DOI: 10.1139/x94-004


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