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Glacier National Park

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A research project was initiated in the summer of 1980 to study re-establishment of vegetation following prescribed burning in Glacier National Park (GNP), Montana. The problem of conifer re-establishment following disturbance such as fire has often been associated with inadequate moisture conditions (Ronco 1970). The ecophysiological characteristics of a particular species may determine its success in establishment as well as its successional role in a community. Since the goal of prescribed burning is often to "set back" succession in a particular community, knowledge of the ecophysiological characteristics of the species involved is vital to the development of sound management policy. Three conifers common to GNP and the Rocky Mountains, Abies lasiocarpa, Picea engelmannii, and Pinus contorta, were monitored throughout the season to develop baseline information on their water relations at exposed sites, similar to postburn situations, compared to normal understory situations. Although, successional patterns concerning these three conifers have been well documented (Stahelin 1943, Langenheim 1962, Day 1972, Whipple and Dix 1979), their ecophysiological adaptations influencing establishment and succession following a burn or other disturbance has received little attention.