A fir wave
is a set of alternating bands of fir trees
in sequential stages of development, observed in forests
on exposed mountain
slopes in several areas, including northeastern North America
. Fir waves develop by wave-regeneration following wind disturbance
, and is one of various types of patterned vegetation
How fir waves form
Fir waves form by the ecological
process of wave-regeneration. When a tree falls, a gap
in the canopy is formed. This exposes trees at the leeward
edge of the gap to greater wind. These trees are thus more likely to die from damage and desiccation than windward
trees. These leeward trees eventually die, gradually expanding the gap downwind. At the same time, young trees start to grow in the wind shadow in the windward portion of the gap, protected from the high winds by the surviving trees. The combination of dying trees at the leeward edge and regenerating trees at the windward edge results in the propagation of the fir waves in the direction of the predominant prevailing wind. The period of the waves is variable, typically about 60 years in Balsam Fir
). One can view these from the Appalachian Trail as it ascends the Hunt Spur of Mount Katahdin
. Looking out to the Owl and the Brothers are extensive areas of this phenomenon.
References and further reading
- , from Forest and Landscape Ecology course material at Michigan Tech.
- , ecological research by J. Silvertown and M.......