Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2013, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (5): 474-480.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2013.00049

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A review of effects of fire disturbance on understory vegetation in boreal coniferous forest

YANG Jian1,*(),KONG Jian-Jian1,2,3,LIU Bo1,2   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3College of Chemistry and Life Science, Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang 110034, China
  • Published:2013-05-16
  • Contact: YANG Jian


Understory vegetation in boreal forests is the most diverse and least understood component of boreal plant com- munities. In addition, the aboveground net primary productivity of understory vegetation is almost comparable to that of the trees, and the biomass turns over more rapidly than does that of the trees. Fire disturbance is an important landscape process, driving understory structure and function in boreal forests. We review recent research about how fire, interacting with topography and overstory canopy, affects environmental resources (e.g., light and soil nutrients) and understory vegetation. Recent studies have demonstrated that understory vegetation in boreal forests can also influence post-fire tree seedling regeneration, rate of recovery and successional pathways. It can also affect the quantity and heterogeneity of environmental resources by influencing biogeochemical processes such as decomposition and nutrient flow. Understanding understory vegetation dynamics after fire, especially during early succession, is very important for biodiversity conservation and management of boreal forest.

Key words: boreal coniferous forest, environmental resources, fire disturbance, species diversity, understory vegetation