Aspen Bibliography

Effects of burning on prairie aspen grove microclimate

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Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment





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The microclimate of a small aspen grove located in the Kernen Prairie of central Saskatchewan was monitored from December 1993 to April 1995 in comparison with that of the adjacent prairie. The aspen grove was burned on 5 May 1995 as part of the management program for the Kernen Prairie, and microclimatic measurements were continued for a further 2 years. The fire removed almost the entire understory and killed most of the trees in the grove. However, many of the dead trees remained standing until knocked over by strong winds. Before burning, the trees leafed out in summer, shading the ground and producing a low density of grasses and shrubs beneath the main tree canopy. After burning, growth of brome grass and aspen suckers provided a dense covering close to the ground, in response to higher solar radiation. The main changes to grove microclimate by burning were higher radiation intensities, windspeeds, and daytime temperatures near the ground during the summer. This paper describes the microclimates of the aspen grove before and after burning, in comparison with that of the surrounding prairie. The importance of such groves as wildlife habitat, and the ecological significance of the post-fire microclimate are discussed.