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Matthew B. Dickinson, Edward A. Johnson
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Effects
Ecological - Second Order
Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest, Aspen woodland

NRFSN number: 7922
FRAMES RCS number: 3911
Record updated:

We use two rate-process models to describe cell mortality at elevated temperatures as a means of understanding vascular cambium cell death during surface fires. In the models, cell death is caused by irreversible damage to cellular molecules that occurs at rates that increase exponentially with temperature. The models differ in whether cells show cumulative effects of heating. The temperature dependencies of the models' rate parameters were estimated from cell-count data after exposing live-bark tissues from four Canadian Rocky Mountain tree species to a range of fixed temperatures in a water bath. Based on both models, lodgepole pine's (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.) growing season vascular cambium cells experienced lower mortality rates at elevated temperatures than those of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm.), and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco). Growing and dormant season differences were marginal. With reservations for lodgepole pine, both models predicted cell survival after exposures to rising and falling temperatures such as would be experienced by live tissues during fires. A simulation involving conduction heat transfer from flames and vascular cambium cell mortality suggests that differences among species in thermal tolerance are small compared with the effects of bark thickness. Although stem vascular cambium cell mortality was complete when tissues reached 60 deg C during simulated surface fires, it may not be warranted to apply the 60 deg C threshold to other tissues exposed to contrasting temperature regimes during fires.


Dickinson, Matthew B.; Johnson, Edward A. 2004. Temperature-dependent rate models of vascular cambium cell mortality. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 34(3): 546-559.