Influences of prior wildfires on vegetation response to subsequent fire in a reburned Southwestern landscapeAuthor(s): Jonathan D. Coop; Sean A. Parks; Sarah R. McClernan; Lisa M. Holsinger
Source: Ecological Applications. 26(2): 346-354.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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Large and severe wildfires have raised concerns about the future of forested landscapes in the southwestern United States, especially under repeated burning. In 2011, under extreme weather and drought conditions, the Las Conchas fire burned over several previous burns as well as forests not recently exposed to fire. Our purpose was to examine the influences of prior wildfires on plant community composition and structure, subsequent burn severity, and vegetation response. To assess these relationships, we used satellite-derived measures of burn severity and a nonmetric multidimensional scaling of pre-and post-Las Conchas field samples. Earlier burns were associated with shifts from forested sites to open savannas and meadows, oak scrub, and ruderal communities. These non-forested vegetation types exhibited both resistance to subsequent fire, measured by reduced burn severity, and resilience to reburning, measured by vegetation recovery relative to forests not exposed to recent prior fire. Previous shifts toward non-forested states were strongly reinforced by reburning. Ongoing losses of forests and their ecological values confirm the need for restoration interventions. However, given future wildfire and climate projections, there may also be opportunities presented by transformations toward fire-resistant and resilient vegetation types within portions of the landscape.
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Coop, Jonathan D.; Parks, Sean A.; McClernan, Sarah R.; Holsinger, Lisa M. 2016. Influences of prior wildfires on vegetation response to subsequent fire in a reburned Southwestern landscape. Ecological Applications. 26(2): 346-354.
KeywordsBandelier National Monument, New Mexico, USA, fire severity, general resilience, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, USA, landscape memory, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), prescribed fire, relativized burn ratio
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