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Biomass and fuel characteristics of chaparral in southern CaliforniaAuthor(s): Jon C. Regelbrugge; Sue Conard
Source: In: Proceedings 13th Fire and Forest Meteorology Conference, Lorne, Australia, 1996. Spokane, WA: International Association of Wildland Fire: 349-356
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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DescriptionAccurate estimates of biomass components and fuel characteristics of southern California chaparral plant communities are important for planning prescribed fires, suppressing wildfires, and for understanding the ecological interactions between fire and chaparral community development and succession. We have sampled chaparral biomass and fuels on a variety of sites as part of our research into the fire ecology of chaparral. These sites have spanned a broad geographic range, as well as a range in age, species composition and productivity. Total aboveground biomass of chaparral stands greater than 15 years old can range from 10-40 Mg/ha (1 Mg/ha= 1000 kg/ha) for Adenostoma fasciculatum, with canopy heights of 1.5-2.5 m, to as much as 120 Mg/ha for several Ceanothus species with canopy height of up to 5.5 to 6 m. Within a stand, coefficients of variation of biomass among plots are commonly 25 to 30 percent, and community structure can vary dramatically in relation to topographic and edaphic gradients over short distances of 5 to 10 m. Foliage accounts for 3 to 25 percent of total biomass in A. fasciculatum and Ceanothus-dominated stands. The fraction of stand biomass that is considered to be fuel available for fire propagation, which includes foliage, live twigs less than 6 mm in diameter, and dead woody material, ranges from approximately 30 percent to 75 percent in mature chaparral stands. This available fuel fraction is probably related to climatic factors such as prolonged drought periods, as well as species composition, species morphology, and site productivity. Our ongoing work is focused on improving efficiency of biomass and fuels sampling, arid relating biomass development through time to site and climatic factors.
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CitationRegelbrugge, Jon C.; Conard, Susan G. 1998. Biomass and fuel characteristics of chaparral in southern California. In: Proceedings 13th Fire and Forest Meteorology Conference, Lorne, Australia, 1996. Spokane, WA: International Association of Wildland Fire: 349-356
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