Southwestern dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium vaginatum (Willd.) J. Presl ssp. cryptopodum) infests about 0.9 million ha in the southwestern United States. Several studies suggest that dwarf mistletoes affect forest fuels and fire behavior; however, few studies have quantified these effects. We compared surface fuel loadings and predicted fire behavior among four levels of dwarf mistletoe infestation (none, light, moderate, and severe) in a total of 239 plots on 11 sites on basaltic soils in northern Arizona. In each plot we measured tree attributes, dwarf mistletoe rating and surface fuel loading. Stands severely infested by dwarf mistletoe had lower (P < 0.05) tree density and higher snag density, but higher (P < 0.05) total surface fuel loadings and total fuel loadings >7.62 cm and <7.62 cm, than non-infested stands. However, there were no statistical differences in any canopy fuel variables among infestation classes. Predicted fire behavior indicated that the wind speed required to promote the spread of a surface fire into the canopy was lower in severely infested stands than in non-infested stands. These results suggest that stands in northern Arizona that are severely infested with dwarf mistletoe should be priority areas for fuels treatments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science