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Keyword: fire exclusion

Associated riparian communities

Publications Posted on: June 22, 2020
Some 100 years of fire exclusion in the Interior Northwest has resulted in riparian areas dominated by dense thickets of shade-tolerant trees. If former, more open conditions could be restored, these habitats could once more support a more diverse bird community. Efforts toward this at two study sites are described.

Reviewing fire, climate, deer, and foundation species as drivers of historically open oak and pine forests and transition to closed forests

Publications Posted on: June 10, 2020
Historically open oak and pine savannas and woodlands have transitioned to closed forests comprised of increased numbers of tree species throughout the eastern United States. We reviewed evidence for and against a suite of previously postulated drivers of forest transition focused on (1) change in fire regimes, (2) increased precipitation, (3) increased white-tailed deer densities, and (4) loss of American chestnut.

Fuel treatments and bark beetles combine for forest change

Science Spotlights Posted on: May 20, 2020
Fuel treatments are important to restore vegetation structure and composition in dry forests, imbuing ecological resistance to future wildfire. But ecosystem benefits may change after treatment as forests regrow, especially if disturbances such as mountain pine beetle outbreak intervene. We found post-treatment growth plus beetle-caused mortality in thinning-only or burning-only strategies erased comparative benefits, and only combined thinning and burning treatments provided the unique structural and compositional outcomes expected of restoration.

Forest changes during fire exclusion are rapid and have profound effects

Science Spotlights Posted on: October 12, 2018
The 20th Century was a period of enormous change for western forests. Fire used to maintain distinct forest vegetation communities – pine, dry mixed-conifer, mesic mixed-conifer, and spruce-fir – in close proximity to one another along steep vertical gradients in the topographically diverse forests of the American Southwest. How did these forests change in response to fire exclusion? In what ways and how rapidly? What are the consequences of these changes? It is important to provide context for the condition of today’s forests, but more importantly, how can this information help today’s managers?

Tree demography records and last recorded fire dates from the Pinaleño Demography Project, Arizona USA

Datasets Posted on: March 15, 2018
This data publication includes tree measurements taken from 2008-2013 across a gradient of forest types in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona, USA. Tree data include: species, pith date, and last recorded fire date. These data were collected as part of the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) Growth and Demography of Pinaleño High Elevation Forests research project.

Tree demography records and last recorded fire dates from the Pinaleño Demography Project, Arizona USA

Documents and Media Posted on: November 06, 2017
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Forests transformed by fire exclusion help us understand climate resilience

Science Spotlights Posted on: November 06, 2017
The onset of fire exclusion in western North American forests in the late 1800s began one of the largest unintended landscape ecology experiments in human history. The current ecology of these forests and the ecological impacts of returning fire to these forests is strongly influenced by the amount of forest change that has occurred during the fire-free period. Understanding how different forest types responded to fire exclusion is important for implementing management strategies that restore fire as a natural process, promote forest health, and maintain well-functioning forests for future generations.  

Disturbance and productivity interactions mediate stability of forest composition and structure

Publications Posted on: April 14, 2017
Fire is returning to many conifer-dominated forests where species composition and structure have been altered by fire exclusion. Ecological effects of these fires are influenced strongly by the degree of forest change during the fire-free period. Response of fire-adapted species assemblages to extended fire-free intervals is highly variable, even in communities with similar historical fire regimes.

Wildland fire: Nature’s fuel treatment

Media Gallery Posted on: September 14, 2016
In recent decades, many landscapes across the western United States have experienced substantial fire activity. These fires consume fuels and alter vegetation structure, which may be able to serve as a natural fuel treatment in the same manner as mechanical treatments or prescribed fire. Knowing that fire occurrence, size, and severity are limited by recent wildfires should provide greater flexibility and confidence in managing fire incidents and managing for resource benefit. Specifically, fire managers can use the findings from this study to help predict whether a previous fire will act as a fuel treatment based on fire age, forest type, and expected weather.

Wildland fire: Nature’s fuel treatment

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 14, 2016
In recent decades, many landscapes across the western United States have experienced substantial fire activity. These fires consume fuels and alter vegetation structure, which may be able to serve as a natural fuel treatment in the same manner as mechanical treatments or prescribed fire. Knowing that fire occurrence, size, and severity are limited by recent wildfires should provide greater flexibility and confidence in managing fire incidents and managing for resource benefit. Specifically, fire managers can use the findings from this study to help predict whether a previous fire will act as a fuel treatment based on fire age, forest type, and expected weather.

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