Great Basin Naturalist


Several investigations (size-class analysis, age-determination inquiries, and germination tests) suggest that Cupressus arizonica of southeastern Arizona is a pioneer species. The tree requires disturbance to remove or reduce soil litter, which otherwise inhibits the reproduction of the species. Reduction of light intensity caused by canopy closure appears to be less important than litter accumulation in restricting C. arizonica reproduction. Following disturbance, successful establishment of seedlings may occur over an extended period (50 to 100 years), as litter gradually accumulates. The absence of C. arizonica seedlings in present populations suggest that fire suppression policies on federal lands where C. arizonica occurs have altered fire frequency, and consequently have fostered a short-term reduction in C. arizonica establishment. Only in floodplain environments, where flooding disturbs the soil surface, has much reproduction occurred in recent years. The long-term population pattern of C. arizonica appears stable, due to the great longevity of the species.