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Challenges and a checklist for biodiversity conservation in fire-prone forests: perspecitves from the Pacific Northwest of USA and Southeastern AustraliaAuthor(s): Thomas A. Spies; David B. Lindenmayer; A. Malcolm Gill; Scott L. Stephens; James K. Agee
Source: Biological Conservation. 145(1): 5-14.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionConserving biodiversity in fire-prone forest ecosystems is challenging for several reasons including differing and incomplete conceptual models of fire-related ecological processes, major gaps in ecological and management knowledge, high variability in fire behavior and ecological responses to fires, altered fire regimes as a result of land-use history and climate change, and the increasing encroachment into forest landscapes by humans. We briefly compare two ecologically distinct fire-prone forest regions, the Pacific Northwest, USA and southeastern Australia with the goal of finding ecological conservation generalities that transcend regional differences as well as differences in scientific concepts and management. We identify the major conceptual scientific and conservation challenges and then present a checklist of questions that need to be answered to implement place-based approaches to conserving biodiversity in fireprone forest ecosystems. The two regions exhibit both similarities and differences in how biodiversity conservation is conceptualized and applied. Important research and management challenges include: understanding fire-prone systems as coupled natural-human systems, using the disturbance regime concept in multiple ways, dealing with large fire events, using language about the effects of fire with more precision, and researching and monitoring fire and biodiversity at multiple spatial scales. Despite the weaknesses of present conceptual models, it is possible to develop a checklist of principles or questions that can be used to guide management and conservation at local scales across systems. Our list includes: establishing the socio-economic context of fire management, identifying disturbance regimes that will meet conservation goals, moving beyond fuel treatments as a goal, basing management goals on vital attributes of species, and planning for large events including post-fire responses.
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CitationSpies, Thomas A.; Lindenmayer, David B.; Gill, A. Malcolm; Stephens, Scott L.; Agee, James K. 2012. Challenges and a checklist for biodiversity conservation in fire-prone forests: perspecitves from the Pacific Northwest of USA and Southeastern Australia. Biological Conservation. 145(1): 5-14.
KeywordsDisturbance, Fire effects, Fire regimes, Human systems, Landscape management, Monitoring
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