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Prescribed fire is a primary tool used to restore western forests following more than a century of fire exclusion, reducing fire hazard by removing dead and live fuels (small trees and shrubs). It is commonly assumed that the reduced forest density following prescribed fire also reduces competition for resources among the remaining trees, so that the remaining trees are more resistant (more likely to survive) in the face of additional stressors, such as drought. Yet this proposition remains largely untested, so that managers do not have the basic information to evaluate whether prescribed fire may help forests adapt to a future of more frequent and severe drought.During the third year of drought, in 2014, we surveyed...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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Standing dead trees, or snags, are an important habitat element for many animal species. In many ecosystems, fire is a primary driver of snag population dynamics because it can both create and consume snags. The objective of this study was to examine how variation in two key components of the fire regime—fire-return interval and season of burn—affected population dynamics of snags. Using a factorial design, we exposed 1 ha plots, located within larger burn units in a south Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa Little and Dorman) forest, to prescribed fire applied at two intervals (approximately 3-year intervals vs. approximately 6-year intervals) and during two seasons (wet season vs. dry season) over a...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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Fire is being prescribed and used increasingly to promote ecosystem restoration (e.g., oak woodlands and savannas) and to manage wildlife habitat in the Central Hardwoods and Appalachian regions, USA. However, questions persist as to how fire affects hardwood forest communities and associated wildlife, and how fire should be used to achieve management goals. We provide an up-to-date review of fire effects on various wildlife species and their habitat in the Central Hardwoods and Appalachians. Documented direct effects (i.e., mortality) on wildlife are rare. Indirect effects (i.e., changes in habitat quality) are influenced greatly by light availability, fire frequency, and fire intensity. Unless fire intensity is...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
The Anaktuvuk River Fire was the largest, highest-severity wildfire recorded on Alaska’s North Slope since records began in 1956. The 2007 Anaktuvuk River Fire was an order of magnitude larger than the average fire size in the historic record for northern Alaska and indices of severity were substantially higher than for other recorded tundra burns. An interdisciplinary team assessed fire effects including burn severity, potential plant community shifts, and effects on permafrost and active layers. Observers monumented, photographed, and measured 24 burned and 17 unburned reference transects, starting the year after the fire, and spanning the range of vegetation types and burn severities.
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Mechanical fuel treatments are a primary pre-fire strategy for potentially mitigating the threat of wildland fire, yet there is limited information on how they impact shrubland ecosystems. Our goal was to assess the impact of mechanical mastication fuel treatments on chaparral vegetation and to determine the extent to which they emulate early post-fire succession. Mastication treatments significantly reduced the height and cover of woody vegetation and increased herbaceous cover and diversity. Non-native cover, density, and diversity were also significantly higher in masticated treatments. Comparisons with post-fire data from two studies showed that certain ephemeral post-fire endemics were absent or of limited...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus and C. minimus) historically inhabited much of the sagebrush-dominated habitat of North America. Today, sage-grouse populations are declining throughout most of their range. Population dynamics of sage-grouse are marked by strong cyclic behavior. Adult survival is high, but is offset by low juvenile survival, resulting in low productivity. Habitat for sage-grouse varies strongly by life-history stage. Critical habitat components include adequate canopy cover of tall grasses (? 18 cm) and medium height shrubs (40?80 cm) for nesting, abundant forbs and insects for brood rearing, and availability of herbaceous riparian species for late-growing season foraging. Fire ecology of...
In recent years, Alaska has seen the largest (2004), second largest (2015), third largest (2005) and sixth largest (2009) fire years since 1940, and observed increases in area burned in Canada during the last four decades are linked with warming summer season temperatures. To the surprise and concern of fire and resource managers, some of these fires burned across fire scars from the previous decade or decades, an uncharacteristic phenomenon in boreal forests. This project is assessing the ecological and management implications of repeat fires. This funding to the National Park Service and USGS is contributing to a large effort to model the conditions under which new fires burn into older fires, the behavior of...
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Prescribed fire is an important tool for fuel reduction, the control of competing vegetation, and forest restoration. The accumulated fuels associated with historical fire exclusion can cause undesirably high tree mortality rates following prescribed fires and wildfires. This is especially true for sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Douglas), which is already negatively affected by the introduced pathogen white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fisch. ex Rabenh). We tested the efficacy of raking away fuels around the base of sugar pine to reduce mortality following prescribed fire in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, California, USA. This study was conducted in three prescribed fires and included 457...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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We surveyed burned and unburned plots across four habitat reserves in San Diego County, California, USA, in 2005 and 2006, to assess the effects of the 2003 wildfires on the community structure and relative abundance of rodent species. The reserves each contained multiple vegetation types (coastal sage scrub, chaparral, woodland, and grassland) and spanned from 250 m to 1078 m in elevation. Multivariate analyses revealed a more simplified rodent community structure in all burned habitats in comparison to unburned habitats. Reduction in shrub and tree cover was highly predictive of changes in post-fire rodent community structure in the burned coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. Reduction in cover was not predictive...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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Federal fire management plans are essential implementation guides for the management of wildland fire on federal lands. Recent changes in federal fire policy implementation guidance and fire science information suggest the need for substantial changes in federal fire management plans of the United States. Federal land management agencies are also undergoing land management planning efforts that will initiate revision of fire management plans across the country. Using the southern Sierra Nevada as a case study, we briefly describe the underlying framework of fire management plans, assess their consistency with guiding principles based on current science information and federal policy guidance, and provide recommendations...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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We evaluated the impact of fire severity and related spatial and vegetative parameters on small mammal populations in 2 yr- to 15 yr-old burns in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. We also developed habitat models that would predict small mammal responses to fires of differing severity. We hypothesized that fire severity would influence the abundances of small mammals through changes in vegetation composition, structure, and spatial habitat complexity. Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) abundance responded negatively to fire severity, and brush mouse (P. boylii) abundance increased with increasing oak tree (Quercus spp.) cover. Chipmunk (Neotamias spp.) abundance was best predicted through a combination of...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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The USGS Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) comprises a dispersed science community collocated with DOI agencies, academic institutions, or proximal to critical ecosystems. WERC scientists conduct peer-reviewed research using innovative tools to provide natural resource managers with the knowledge to address challenges to ecosystem function and service in Pacific West landscapes. Four Scientific Themes define the research of WERC scientists: Species and Landscape Response to Human Activity Renewable energy development, urbanization, water abatement, prescribed fires, barriers to movement, and invasive species are among key factors that impact Pacific western US natural resources. To identify potential impacts...
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Fire frequency, area burned, and fire severity are important attributes of a fire regime, but few studies have quantified the interrelationships among them in evaluating a fire year. Although area burned is often used to summarize a fire season, burned area may not be well correlated with either the number or ecological effect of fires. Using the Landsat data archive, we examined all 148 wildland fires (prescribed fires and wildfires) >40 ha from 1984 through 2009 for the portion of the Sierra Nevada centered on Yosemite National Park, California, USA. We calculated mean fire frequency and mean annual area burned from a combination of field- and satellite-derived data. We used the continuous probability distribution...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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The northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis Trovessart) is a cavity-roosting species that forages in cluttered upland and riparian forests throughout the oak-dominated Appalachian and Central Hardwoods regions. Common prior to white-nose syndrome, the population of this bat species has declined to functional extirpation in some regions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including portions of the central Appalachians. Our long-term research in the central Appalachians has shown that maternity colonies of this species form non-random assorting networks in patches of suitable trees that result from long- and short-term forest disturbance processes, and that roost loss can occur with these disturbances. Following...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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The avian community of peatland habitats were surveyed along belt transects established in multiple units of Seney National Wildlife Refuge, representing peatland habitats dominated by a range of sedge to shrub cover at varying levels. Surveys were conducted during the 3-week period of mid-May to early June and again during mid-June-early July in three years (2007–2009). Three datasets are included here 1) data of presence/absence of breeding bird species detected in each 100-m segment of belt transects, 2) four-letter codes for bird species, and 3) environmental and land-cover attributes summarized for 200-m buffers around the bird-survey segments (100m x 100m), and number of years since each segment was burned,...
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The increased frequency and severity of large wildfires in the western United States is an important ecological and management issue with direct relevance to amphibian conservation. Although the knowledge of fire effects on amphibians in the region is still limited relative to most other vertebrate species, we reviewed the current literature to determine if there are evident patterns that might be informative for conservation or management strategies. Of the seven studies that compared pre- and post-wildfire data on a variety of metrics, ranging from amphibian occupancy to body condition, two reported positive responses and five detected negative responses by at least one species. Another seven studies used a retrospective...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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In 1972, Yosemite National Park established a wilderness fire zone in which lightning fires were allowed to run their courses under prescribed conditions. This zone was expanded in 1973 to include the 16 209 ha Illilouette Creek basin, just to the southeast of Yosemite Valley. From 1973 through 2011, there have been 157 fires in the basin. Fire severity data were collected on all 28 of those fires that were larger than 40 ha. The proportion burned in each fire severity class was not significantly associated with fire return interval departure class. When areas were reburned, the proportion of unchanged severity fire decreased while the proportion of high severity fire increased. The proportion of fire severity of...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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The LANDFIRE Program provides comprehensive vegetation and fuel datasets for the entire United States. As with many large-scale ecological datasets, vegetation and landscape conditions must be updated periodically to account for disturbances, growth, and natural succession. The LANDFIRE Refresh effort was the first attempt to consistently update these products nationwide. It incorporated a combination of specific systematic improvements to the original LANDFIRE National data, remote sensing based disturbance detection methods, field collected disturbance information, vegetation growth and succession modeling, and vegetation transition processes. This resulted in the creation of two complete datasets for all 50 states:...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
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Ecological definition and detection of fire severity are influenced by factors of spatial resolution and timing. Resolution determines the aggregation of effects within a sampling unit or pixel (alpha variation), hence limiting the discernible ecological responses, and controlling the spatial patchiness of responses distributed throughout a burn (beta variation). As resolution decreases, alpha variation increases, extracting beta variation and complexity from the spatial model of the whole burn. Seasonal timing impacts the quality of radiometric data in terms of transmittance, sun angle, and potential contrast between responses within burns. Detection sensitivity candegrade toward the end of many fire seasons when...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fire Ecology
Understanding the effect of variation in climate on large-fire occurrence across broad geographic areas is central to effective fire hazard assessment. The El Nin?o? Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) affect winter temperature and precipitation regimes in western North America through mid-latitude teleconnections. This study examines relationships of ENSO and the PDO to drought-induced fire occurrence in subalpine forests of three study areas across the Rocky Mountains: Jasper National Park (JNP, northern Rockies), Yellowstone National Park (YNP, central Rockies) and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP, southern Rockies) over the 1700?1975 period. Large-scale climatic anomalies...


map background search result map search result map The role of fire-return interval and season of burn in snag dynamics in a south Florida slash pine forest Anaktuvuk River Fire Monitoring Breeding bird species in peatland habitats, Seney NWR, 2007-2009 The role of fire-return interval and season of burn in snag dynamics in a south Florida slash pine forest Anaktuvuk River Fire Monitoring Breeding bird species in peatland habitats, Seney NWR, 2007-2009