Fire Ecology & Effects

Post-fire in chaparral

Frequent fire in California chaparral reduces post-fire shrub regeneration and native plant diversity

Webinar registration.

Fire frequencies in Mediterranean climate zones, like North American chaparral shrublands, are much higher than historical averages. This departure has major implications for biodiversity, leading to exotic invasion and potential type conversion of shrubland to grassland. We studied the impact of increased fire frequency in California’s Interior Coast Range. Surveying fifty-four plots with up to six fires in 30 years, we found a significant reduction in post-fire native woody regeneration and an increase in non-native species dominance with increased fire frequency. Consequently, areas with higher fire recurrence exhibited a more homogeneous landscape, dominated by a similar group of non-native species.

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14th North American Forest Ecology Workshop

Workshop website.

The 14th North American Forest Ecology Workshop (NAFEW) will take place June 24 – 27, 2024 in Asheville, NC

The format of the meeting will be different from past years, as we will kick off the meeting with all day field trips on Monday followed by a plenary talk in the evening. Sessions will be offered all day Tuesday, half day Wednesday, and all day Thursday. Local field trips will be offered Wednesday afternoon and workshops will occur throughout the week. A banquet is planned for Tuesday evening.

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4th Southwest Fire Ecology Conference

Conference website.

The Southwest Fire Science Consortium, Arizona Wildfire Initiative, and the Association for Fire Ecology are hosting the 4th Southwest Fire Ecology Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico from November 18-22, 2024.

Our conference will bring together professionals to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and discuss the latest advancements in fire ecology research and management with a focus on the southwestern United States. Join us for a unique opportunity to connect with fellow professionals and engage in stimulating discussions that will shape the future of fire ecology in this region.

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Wildlife and fire in the Southwest

The Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, USDA Forest Service, and many other organizations are hosting a yearlong series of workshops and webinars to advance wildlife management relating to fire in the Southwest. This series will kick off with a two-part virtual workshop that will highlight case studies, emerging research, and more.

Day and time: January 23 @ 1-4 p.m. MST and January 24 @ 9-12 p.m. MST

To learn more and register, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3V7DW6Q.

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Fire frequency effects on plant community characteristics in the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts

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Wildfire regimes are changing dramatically across North American deserts with the spread of invasive grasses. Invasive grass fire cycles in historically fire-resistant deserts are resulting in larger and more frequent wildfire. This study experimentally compared how single and repeat fires influence invasive grass-dominated plant fuels in the Great Basin, a semi-arid, cold desert, and the Mojave, a hyper-arid desert. Both study sites had identical study designs. In the summer of 2011, we experimentally burned half of each experimental block, the other half remaining as an unburned control. Half of the burned plots were reburned 5 years later to simulate increasing burn frequency. We estimated non-woody plant biomass, cover, and density in plots from 2017 to 2020.

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Grassification and fast-evolving fire connectivity and risk in the Sonoran Desert

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In the southwestern United States, non-native grass invasions have increased wildfire occurrence in deserts and the likelihood of fire spread to and from other biomes. Wildfires were historically small and infrequent in the warm deserts of western North America, with minimal impact on the desert vegetation. In recent decades, the fire regime has shifted with the spread of non-native grasses. Fires are increasingly burning large areas in desert habitats, largely driven by grassification, the physiognomic conversion of shrublands to grassland by non-native grass invasions. This conversion is especially concentrated at the upper elevational and northern latitudinal boundaries of the Sonoran Desert, which are transition zones to adjacent fire-prone biomes.

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USGS Sagebrush and Fire Research Webinar Series

What: USGS will host 7 webinars focusing on updates to sagebrush and fire related research funded in FY23.  Each webinar will loosely follow the themes of Fire, Invasives, Sagebrush Restoration, Climate, and Grouse/Wildlife.  More information on the projects covered will be shared soon.

When: Thursdays from 8:00-10:30 PST/9:00-11:30 MST
Still upcoming are: Feb 8, 15, 22, 29Recordings: Webinars will be recorded, but it will be some time before they will be available to a non-DOI audience.
How: Microsoft Teams meeting (no registration required)

Click here to join

Meeting ID: 270 206 584 228Passcode: zdGDqX

FEB 15, 22, and 29 Presentations:

TBA

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Predicting locations of forest resistance and recruitment in a fiery world

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Using biophysical predictors and patterns of burn severity from 1180 recent fire events, we mapped the locations of potential fire refugia across upland conifer forests in the southwestern United States (US) (99,428 km2 of forest area), a region that is highly vulnerable to fire-driven transformation. We found that low pre-fire forest cover, flat slopes or topographic concavities, moderate weather conditions, spring-season burning, and areas affected by low-to moderate-severity fire within the previous 15 years were most-commonly associated with refugia. Based on current (i.e., 2021) conditions, we predicted that 67.6% and 18.1% of conifer forests in our study area would contain refugia under moderate and extreme fire weather, respectively. However, potential refugia were 36.4% (moderate weather) and 31.2% (extreme weather) more common across forests that experienced recent fires, supporting the increased use of prescribed and resource objective fires during moderate weather conditions to promote fire-resistant landscapes. When overlaid with models of tree recruitment, 23.2% (moderate weather) and 6.4% (extreme weather) of forests were classified as refugia with a high potential to support post-fire recruitment in the surrounding landscape. These locations may be disproportionately valuable for ecosystem sustainability, providing habitat for fire-sensitive species and maintaining forest persistence in an increasingly fire-prone world.

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Long-term costs of uncharacteristic wildfire: Case study of the Schultz Fire in northern Arizona

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Costs associated with the Schultz Fire continued to accrue over 10 years, particularly those associated with post-wildfire flooding, totalling between US$109 and US$114 million. Suppression costs represented only 10% of total costs.

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Post-fire field guide: Create and use post-fire soil burn severity maps

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In the weeks following the 2022 Cedar Creek Fire, an Interagency Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team was mobilized to identify and mitigate risks to human life and safety and critical water resources in the surrounding communities, including Oakridge, Oregon. During their assessment, the BAER team used a field guide developed by the Rocky Mountain Research Station to create a soil burn severity map and identify areas prone to elevated erosion. Their field work led to quick assessment of potential harm to water quality in Waldo Lake.

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