Fire and dwarf mistletoe (Viscaceae: Arceuthobium species) in western North America: contrasting Arceuthobium tsugense and Arceuthobium americanum

Year: 
2017
Publications Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Number: 
5012
Citation: 

Shaw, David C.; Agne, Michelle C. 2017. Fire and dwarf mistletoe (Viscaceae: Arceuthobium species) in western North America: contrasting Arceuthobium tsugense and Arceuthobium americanum. Botany. 95(3): 231-246. doi: 10.1139/cjb-2016-0245

Abstract: 

Dwarf mistletoes (Viscaceae: Arceuthobium spp.) and fire interact in important ways in the coniferous forests of western North America. Fire directly affects dwarf mistletoes by killing the host, host branch, or heating/smoking the aerial shoots and fruits. Fire is a primary determinant of dwarf mistletoe distribution on the landscape, and time since fire controls many aspects of dwarf mistletoe epidemiology. Conversely, dwarf mistletoes can influence fire by causing changes in forest composition, structure, and fuels. Prescribed fire is important for management of dwarf mistletoes, while fire suppression is thought to have increased dwarf mistletoe abundance in western forests. Two dwarf mistletoes are compared in order to illustrate fire interactions in Oregon and Washington, USA: Arceuthobium americanum Nutt. ex Engelm. (lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe) and Arceuthobium tsugense (Rosendahl)(western hemlock dwarf mistletoe). Arceuthobium persists on the landscape where the host is not killed by fire. Arceuthobium americanum spreads directly into the regenerating Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud., while A. tsugense persists in refugia for 200 years or more following fire. Host successional status is a driver of fire – dwarf mistletoe interactions, but forest disturbance agents also play a role. Given the importance of these interactions to the ecology of fire-prone forests, dwarf mistletoes warrant inclusion in disturbance ecology research.

Keywords: Arceuthobium spp., coniferous forests, disturbance interactions, dwarf mistletoe, fire ecology