Dendrochronology and Fire History in a Stand of Northern California Coast Redwood

TitleDendrochronology and Fire History in a Stand of Northern California Coast Redwood
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsBrown, PM
AdvisorSwetnam, T
Academic DepartmentSchool of Renewable Natural Resources
UniversityUniversity of Arizona

Fire-scarred cross-sections from coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) at two sites were dendrochronologically dated and used to develop a fire history. Redwood offers a challenge for dendrochronological study due to ring wedging and complacency. Crossdating was successful in 12 of 24 trees. The fire history was developed by comparison of fire scars and fire-associated ring characteristics (resin ducts, double latewood, growth releases, and ring separations) recorded in ring series. Using only dates of fire scars from the first fire in 1714 to the last in 1962, the mean fire interval (MFI) was 9.9 years. MFI for the best represented presettlement segment 1714-1881 was 8.0 years. Using all fire-associate ring features, MFI 1714-1962 was 7.0 years and 1714-1881, 6.0 years. Use of all fire-associated ring characteristics is argued to be a more accurate representation of past fire frequency. MFIs determined are less than others reported for coast redwood and suggest fire frequency in redwood may have been underestimated in past studies.