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It has recently become clear that the regeneration density of serotinous species within a burned area declines with local fire intensity. It is assumed that this occurs because variation in local fire intensity leads to variation in incident heat fluxes and, ultimately, seed necrosis. We argue here that this same relationship between incident heat flux and seed necrosis is important at the scale of individual plant crowns. Using Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P. (black spruce), we show that postfire seed viability increases with crown height, depth into the crown, and angle from wind direction (with the windward side enjoying greater viability). All three effects are what one would expect given the physics of buoyant plumes, interactions of moving fire lines with wake flow around cylinders, and heat transfer in porous bodies such as a tree crown. We conclude by discussing the broader consequences of cone cluster size and global change on regeneration in serotinous species.
Splawinski, T.B., Greene, D.F., Michaletz, S.T., Gauthier, S., Houle, D., Bergeron, Y. (2019): Position of cones within cone clusters determines seed survival in black spruce during wildfire . Canadian Journal of Forest Research 49(2): 121-127. doi: 10.1139/cjfr-2018-0209