Impacts of fire and climate change on long-term nitrogen availability and forest productivity in the New Jersey Pine Barrens
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Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 44(5): 404-412.
Increased wildfires and temperatures due to climate change are expected to have profound effects on forest productivity and nitrogen (N) cycling. Forecasts about how wildfire and climate change will affect forests seldom consider N availability, which may limit forest response to climate change, particularly in fire-prone landscapes. The overall objective of this study was to examine how wildfire and climate change affect long-term mineral N availability in a fire-prone landscape. We employed a commonly used landscape simulation model (LANDIS-II) in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a landscape characterized by frequent small fires and fire-resilient vegetation. We found that fire had little effect on mineral N, whereas climate change and fire together reduced mineral N by the end of the century. Though N initially limited forest productivity, mineral N was no longer limiting after 50 years. Our results suggest that mineral N is resilient to fire under our current climate but not under climate change. Also, predictions that do not consider N limitation may underestimate short-term but not long-term productivity responses to climate change. Together these results illustrate the importance of including N dynamics when simulating the effects of climate change on forest productivity, particularly in fire-prone regions such as the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Lucash, Melissa S.; Scheller, Robert M.; Kretchun, Alec M.; Clark, Kenneth L.; Hom, John. 2014. Impacts of fire and climate change on long-term nitrogen availability and forest productivity in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 44(5): 404-412. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2013-0383.