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Fire History and Fire Ecology in Yellowstone - A Field Tour

Yellowstone field trip photo

Objectives - This event was designed to create dialogue among scientists and managers and to put fire ecology research in the context of real-life limitations and situations that influence decision making and planning.

Topics discussed - Fire history | Fire regime differences across soil, forest, and fuel types | Recovery after fire | Factors influencing different post-fire trajectories | Future fire projections | Possible ecological and management consequences related to future fire predictions | Sensitivity and complacency of fire regimes in response to climate
Presenters included -
Brian Harvey, Postdoc, University of Colorado-Boulder
Dave McWethy, Research Professor, Montana State University
Monica Turner, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Cathy Whitlock, Professor, Montana State University

Subject-matter expert participants included -
Roy Renkin, Acting Chief, Vegetation and Resource Operations, Yellowstone National Park (YNP)
Ann Rodman, Branch Chief, Physical Science, YNP
Todd Opperman, Deputy FMO, YNP
Becky Smith, Fire Ecologist, YNP
Bill Mayer, Fuels Specialist, YNP
Diane Abendroth, Fire Ecologist, Teton Interagency Fire
Tom Olliff, Coordinator, Great Northern Landscape Cooperative
Mary Taber, Fire Ecologist, University of Idaho/Wildland Fire Management RD&A
Julie Shea, Fire / Fuels Planner, Custer Gallatin National Forest
Jon White, Fuels AFMO, Caribou-Targhee National Forest
Travis Belote, Research Ecologist, The Wilderness Society

Resources - An abundance of materials were referenced and discussed during this field tour, most of them are provided below. See also the Field Trip Summary of this event, Yellowstone fire history and fire ecology - Insights 27 years after the 1988 fires.

Yellowstone Field Trip photoBackground and overview of the Yellowstone fires of 1988 -

Fuel moisture, forest type, and lightning-caused fire in Yellowstone National Park

Surprises and lessons from the 1988 Yellowstone fires

Landscape heterogeneity following large fires: insights from Yellowstone National Park, USA

Twenty years after the 1988 Yellowstone fires: lessons about disturbance and ecosystems

Paleo-fire and climate of Yellowstone -

Postglacial vegetation and climate of Grand Teton and southern Yellowstone National Parks

Holocene vegetation-fire-climate linkages in Northern Yellowstone National Park, USA

Complex response of white pines to past environmental variability increases understanding of future vulnerability

Climate and vegetation change during the late-glacial/early Holocene transition inferred from multiple proxy records from Blacktail Pond, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Holocene seasonal variability inferred from multiple proxy records from Crevice Lake, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Spatial variations of holocene climate change in the Yellowstone region

A 750-year fire history based on lake sediment records in central Yellowstone National Park

Linking tree-ring and sediment-charcoal records to reconstruct fire occurrence and area burned in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park, USA

Variations in fire frequency and climate over the last 17,000 years in central Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Field Trip photoLodgepole pine serotiny & implications for postfire regeneration -

Landscape-scale heterogeneity in lodgepole pine serotiny

The influence of fire interval and serotiny on postfire lodgepole pine density in Yellowstone National Park

Spatial heterogeneity of lodgepole pine sapling densities following the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Postfire succession and forest stand development -

Effects of fire size and pattern on succession in Yellowstone National Park

Landscape patterns of sapling density, leaf area, and aboveground net primary production in postfire lodgepole pine forests, Yellowstone National Park (USA)

Variability and convergence in stand development on a fire-dominated subalpine landscape

Postfire changes in forest carbon storage over a 300-year chronosequence of Pinus contorta-dominated forests

Twenty-four years after the Yellowstone Fires: Are postfire lodgepole pine stands converging in structure and function?

Regeneration of montane forests 24 years after the 1988 Yellowstone fires: A fire-catalyzed shift in lower treelines?

Deterministic and stochastic processes lead to divergence in plant communities 25 years after the 1988 Yellowstone fires

Postfire aspen seedling recruitment -

Postfire aspen seedling recruitment across the Yellowstone (USA) landscape

Establishment, persistence, and growth of aspen (Populus tremuloides) seedlings in Yellowstone National Park

Shifting ecological filters mediate postfire expansion of seedling aspen (Populus tremuloides) in Yellowstone

Do high-density patches of coarse wood and regenerating saplings create browsing refugia for aspen (Populus tremuloides) in Yellowstone National Park (USA)?

Fire and bark beetles -

Forest entomology in Yellowstone National Park, 1923-1957: a time of discovery and learning to let live

Recent mountain pine beetle outbreaks, wildfire severity, and postfire tree regeneration in the US northern Rockies

The influence of previous mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) activity on the 1988 Yellowstone fires

Yellowstone Field Trip photoFuture climate and fire predictions -

Modeling the effects of fire and climate change on carbon and nitrogen storage in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) stands

Continued warming could transform Greater Yellowstone fire regimes by mid-21st century

Ecological implications of climate change in Yellowstone: moving into uncharted territory?


Continued learning from the Yellowstone fires of 1988 -

What Yellowstone's '88 fires tell us about Glacier