Great Basin Naturalist


A review of the ecological distribution and successional roles of lodgepole pine and trembling aspen in the Southern Rocky Mountains suggests that the two species have different strategies for occupying disturbed sites. Lodgepole pine's easily dispersed seeds and faster growth from seed in unsuppressed conditions allows it to colonize severe burns, even from remote seed sources. Aspen appears to compensate for ineffective development from seed by vegetative reproduction from durable root stocks, which promotes geographic persistence. Such persistence is achieved by the maintenance of a forest structure conducive to light surface fires, which stimulate suckering and retard conifer invasion, and by the accumulation of soil organic matter, which improves site nutrient retention and water availability.