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why so few hardwoods in the PNW?

Don Baccus dhogaza at pacifier.com
Thu Aug 6 16:07:17 EST 1998

In article <MPG.1031de6aadb28be0989705 at news.teleport.com>,
Larry Caldwell <larryc at teleport.com> wrote:

>You been listening to the press releases again, Zorzin.  The PNW is wet 
>in the winter.  In the summer we often go 90 days with no rain at all, 
>and the whole region turns into a tinderbox.  We have a fire climax 
>ecology, where everything in sight burns to the ground every 50 years or 

This statement that westside coniferous forests "burn to the ground every
50 years or so" is simply wrong.  Care to provide some sort of cite for
that figure, Larry?  Fire is in no way that frequent a visitor to these

>Douglas Fir is a disaster opportunist.  Give it direct sunlight and it 
>will form a forest in a couple decades.  Give it shade and you have 90% 
>dead seedlings.

90% dead Doug fir seedlings, but plenty of hemlock, silver fir, and on
the coast sitka spruce seedlings, the trees which eventually dominate
the climax forest, which still retains plenty of old Doug firs which
live for a very, very long time.

If these forests burned to the ground every 50 years or so, it would
seem difficult to explain the evolution of shade-tolerant species which
depend upon the canopy formed by Doug fir for their own reproduction. 

- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at pacifier.com>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, at http://donb.photo.net

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