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Wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence

Author(s): Sean A. Parks, Carol L. Miller, Lisa M. Holsinger, Scott L. Baggett, Benjamin J. Bird
Year Published: 2016
Description:

Several aspects of wildland fire are moderated by site- and landscape-level vegetation changes caused by previous fire, thereby creating a dynamic where one fire exerts a regulatory control on subsequent fire. For example, wildland fire has been shown to regulate the size and severity of subsequent fire. However, wildland fire has the potential to influence other properties of subsequent fire. One of those properties – the extent to which a previous wildland fire inhibits new fires from igniting and spreading within its perimeter – is the focus of our study. In four large wilderness study areas in the western United States (US), we evaluated whether or not wildland fire regulated the ignition and spread (hereafter occurrence) of subsequent fire. Results clearly indicate that wildland fire indeed regulates subsequent occurrence of fires ≥ 20 ha in all study areas. We also evaluated the longevity of the regulating effect and found that wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence for nine years in the warm/dry study area in the south-western US and over 20 years in the cooler/wetter study areas in the northern Rocky Mountains. Our findings expand upon our understanding of the regulating capacity of wildland fire and the importance of wildland fire in creating and maintaining resilience to future fire events.

Citation: Parks, S.A.; Miller, C.; Holsinger, L.M.; Baggett, L.S.; Bird, B.J. 2015. Wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence. International Journal of Wildland Fire. Online: dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF15107.
Topic(s): Fire History, Fire & Wilderness, Fuel Treatments & Prescriptions
Ecosystem(s): Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest, Ponderosa pine woodland/savanna, Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 13605
Record updated: Apr 14, 2017