Trembling aspen response to a mixed-severity wildfire in the Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) regeneration dynamics including sprout production, growth, and clone size were measured to determine the effects of fire on small aspen clone persistence following a mixedseverity wildfire in the Black Hills, South Dakota. Four years postfire, 10 small, isolated aspen clones per low and high fire severity classes were compared with 10 unburned clones. Regardless of severity, fire did not cause an increase in the area occupied by individual aspen clones. Clones affected by high severity fire had the greatest suckering response producing an average of 31 930 sprouts•ha–1; more than double the sprout density in unburned clones and 67% greater than the sprout density in clones affected by low severity fire. Sprout growth in high severity clones was 135% and 60% greater than sprout growth in unburned and low severity clones. The succession of these clones to more shade-tolerant ponderosa pine was delayed in clones affected by high severity fire as high severity fire caused significant pine mortality within and surrounding the clone, whereas, without further disturbance, pine encroachment and dominance will likely continue in clones affected by low severity fire.