Increases in burned area across the western United States (US) since the mid‐1980s have been widely documented and linked partially to climate factors, yet evaluations of trends in fire severity are lacking. Here we evaluate fire severity trends and their interannual relationships to climate for western US forests from 1985 to 2017.
Increased wildfire activity combined with warm and dry post-fire conditions may undermine the mechanisms maintaining forest resilience to wildfires, potentially causing ecosystem transitions, or fire-catalyzed vegetation shifts. Stand-replacing fire is especially likely to catalyze vegetation shifts expected from climate change, by killing mature trees that are less sensitive to climate than juveniles.
Researchers are increasingly examining patterns and drivers of postfire forest recovery amid growing concern that climate change and intensifying fires will trigger ecosystem transformations. Diminished seed availability and postfire drought have emerged as key constraints on conifer recruitment.
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Wildfires in dry forest ecosystems in western North America are producing fire effects that are more severe than historical estimates, raising concerns about the resilience of these landscapes to contemporary disturbances.
We examined the effects of two recent, high-severity disturbances on seed dispersal and conifer seedling establishment in a subalpine spruce-fir forest in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Our study area had undergone high forest mortality from a spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak beginning ca. 2004, and a portion of the study area was additionally burned by the West Fork Complex wildfire in 2013.
Climate warming is increasing fire activity in many of Earth’s forested ecosystems. Because fire is a catalyst for change, investigation of post-fire vegetation response is critical to understanding the potential for future conversions from forest to non-forest vegetation types.
In frequent-fire forests, wildland fire acts as a self-regulating process creating forest structures that consist of a fine-grained mosaic of isolated trees, tree groups of various sizes, and non-treed openings. Though the self-regulation of forest structure through repeated fires is acknowledged, few studies have investigated the role that fine-scale pattern-process linkages play in determining fire behavior and effects.
Millennia of extensive grazing, agriculture, and timber harvesting have altered Turkey’s native vegetation and modified fire regimes. The degree to which this is so is a topic for debate among policy-makers, managers, and scientists - with implications for understanding the potential impacts of land use and climate change on future forest management.