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Fire ecology

Science Spotlights

High-severity wildfire.
Land managers often need the total number of acres burned broken down by these severity classes for planning after wildfire. To meet this need, Forest Service scientists and their cooperators developed the Fire Severity (FIRESEV) Mapping project, a comprehensive set of tools and procedures that create, evaluate, and deliver fire severity maps for all phases of fire management.
Lubrecht Experimental Forest was a study site for this project.
Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Research Station investigated a number of fuel characteristics across major surface and canopy fuel components that comprise northern Rocky Mountain forest and range fuelbeds. They found that most fuel components have high variability that increases with fuel particle size.
Scientists with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute quantified the ability of wildfire to limit the spread of subsequent fires and essentially, act as a fuel break. Additionally, they evaluated the influence of daily weather in diminishing this effect. The results of this study provide an improved understanding of feedbacks between previous and subsequent wildfire under varying weather conditions and will be useful to fire managers...
USDA Forest Service and University scientists and managers synthesized 100 years of published forestry science to help forest managers better understand the ecology of “frequent-fire” forests. Returning frequent-fire forests to their historical species composition and structure will increase their resilience to fire, insects, disease, and climate change.
Wildland Fuel Fundamentals and Applications is a new book providing critical infomation about wildland fuels.
A new era in wildland fuel sciences is now evolving in that fire scientists and managers need a comprehensive understanding of fuels ecology and science to realistically evaluate fire effects and behavior in the diverse ecosystems and landscapes of the world. Wildland Fuel Fundamentals and Applications is a new book that may provide fire managers and scientists the information needed to understand how fuels are used in fire behavior and effects...
Forest managers and policymakers are increasingly concerned about potential for increased fire activity and severity in future years. Although many studies have focused on how fire activity is expected to change under future climate scenarios, there have been little to no studies on how fire severity is expected to change. To better under understand how fire severity will change in the future, a necessary first step is to better understand the...
Big sagebrush plants are easily killed by fire, thus post-fire recovery must be from seeds that either survive fire or are spread from unburned areas, and recovery rate is dependent upon how fast new sagebrush plants are able to establish after fire. Knowledge of fire characteristics compatible with sagebrush-dominated communities of the Intermountain West is critical for maintaining habitat critical for sagebrush-dependent wildlife, such as...
Many of today’s fires in Colorado Front Range forests (ponderosa pine/ Douglas-fir) are burning more severely than they did historically, and some people are concerned that burned understory plant communities will not recover without intervention. In 2002, Colorado’s Hayman Fire burned research plots used to sample understory plant communities, providing an opportunity to address these concerns. We found that burning promoted diverse and...
We are developing a suite of tools (FHAES: the Fire History Analysis and Exploration System) to calculate the statistics and provide graphics used to describe disturbance – particularly fire – regimes and their relationship to climate. Other disturbances that can be described with these tools include insect infestations, avalanche patterns, flooding, and cold snaps.
Habitat suitability models provide critical information needed for forest management plans to accommodate biodiversity conservation. We are developing GIS-based application tools for forest managers that requires minimal technical expertise to create habitat maps.