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Impacts of Climate Change on Post-Fire Forest Recruitment Rates in Colorado Front Range

Miller, Renah Loren
Abstract
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The Northern Colorado Front Range is home to forests that are highly valued for their ecological services like carbon sequestration as well as for their cultural and recreational significance. Climate change threatens the resilience and perpetuity of these forests by reducing recruitment rates of tree seedlings after major disturbances like fires. Certain management techniques like fire suppression in addition to changes in seasonal precipitation and temperatures have led to more severe and more frequent fire disturbances. Because of this, background rates of tree mortality have increased without a matching increase in seedling recruitment. This project reviews the current scientific literature on climatic patterns in the Colorado Front Range, its historic and current fire regimes, the rate of resiliency of these forests to heal after disturbances, the management implications of these factors, as well as some predictions for the future of these forests. Additionally, an original analysis of Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data collected by the U.S. Forest Service looks at forest surveys conducted across the Front Range to determine whether this program is effectively sampling across all forests to monitor changes in vegetative community composition, especially in the vulnerable lower montane forests.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries
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Keywords
Climate change , Wildfires , Colorado , Montane forests , Biome shift
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