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Review article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Rapid ecological response and intensified knowledge accumulation following a north European mega-fire

Gustafsson, Lena; Berglind, Marten; Granstrom, Anders; Grelle, Achim; Isacsson, Gunnar; Kjellander, Petter; Larsson, Soren; Lindh, Magnus; Pettersson, Lars B.; Strengbom, Joachim; Stridh, Bengt; Savstrom, Tom; Thor, Goran; Wikars, Lars-Ove; Mikusinski, Grzegorz


Deepened knowledge on response of biota and ecological processes following fire is essential for a future with warmer climate and more disturbances. In 2014 the first mega-fire (13,100 ha) for at least a century in Scandinavia hit south-central Sweden, in a production forest landscape shaped by clearcutting forestry. Ecological dynamics is followed in >20 projects from universities, authorities and citizen science initiatives, rapidly accumulating substantial amounts of data. We outline projects and summarize their results during the first four years, demonstrating a rapid succession of fungi, lichens, vascular plants, birds, mammals, ticks, butterflies, beetles, and drastically altered carbon dynamics. We characterize forest operations including regeneration measures and point to patterns in pest and pathogen infestations. 8,000 ha is set aside for natural succession, with the rest harvested and managed for forest production, offering excellent opportunities for studies on salvage logging effects, already evident for birds. We demonstrate a strong regrowth of deciduous trees, and the protected part will in some decades likely develop into the largest deciduous-dominated area in boreal north Europe outside Russia. Continued studies of biodiversity and ecological processes are urgent for this unique area.


Biodiversity; disturbance; ecology; mega-fire; succession

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2019, Volume: 34, number: 4, pages: 234-253 Publisher: TAYLOR & FRANCIS AS