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Ecological Effects of Severe Fire

severe fire behaviorSevere fire is an important component of most fire regimes in the western United States. Approximately 85% of all western US forests fall into mixed-severity fire regimes. Historically, some forests, and parts of all fires, burned with high severity, creating a complex mosaic across the landscape. Severe fires play an essential role in the ecology of mixed-conifer forests by creating unique conditions that many plant and animal species have evolved to depend on. However, contemporary fire management is often focused on the exclusion of severe fire, and many debate about the need for severe fires into the future.

Resources listed here contain the most recent and applicable information on this issue.

Wildfires may burn with lower severity when they burn where prior fires have burned recently. For more information, see our Effects of Repeated Fires hot topic.

This hot topic was developed in partnership with the University of Idaho.

Publications/Reports

2020 Wildfire-driven forest conversion in western North American landscapes
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jonathan D. Coop et al.
2018 Defining Extreme Wildfire Events: Difficulties, Challenges, and Impacts
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Fantina Tedim et al.
2016 Toward a more ecologically informed view of severe forest fires
Book or Chapter or Journal Article, Synthesis
Richard L. Hutto et al.
2015 Vegetation response to burn severity, native grass seeding, and salvage logging
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Penelope Morgan et al.
2015 Using bird ecology to learn about the benefits of severe fire
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Richard L. Hutto et al.
2014 Is proportion burned severely related to daily area burned?
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Donovan Birch et al.
2012 Wildfire severity mediates fluxes of plant material and terrestrial invertebrates to mountain streams
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Breeanne K. Jackson et al.
2012 A new forest fire paradigm: the need for high-severity fires
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Monica L. Bond et al.
2009 Influence of wildfire severity on riparian plant community heterogeneity in an Idaho, USA wilderness
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Breeanne K. Jackson et al.
2009 Fire intensity, fire severity and burn severity: a brief review
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Jon E. Keeley
2008 The ecological importance of severe wildfires: some like it hot
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Richard L. Hutto
2008 Spatial characteristics of fire severity in relation to fire growth in a Rocky Mountain subalpine forest
Conference Proceedings, Technical Report or White Paper
Calvin A. Farris et al.
2007 The relation between tree burn severity and forest structure in the Rocky Mountains
Conference Proceedings, Technical Report or White Paper
Theresa B. Jain et al.
2006 The relation between forest structure and soil burn severity
Conference Proceedings
Theresa B. Jain et al.
2005 Changes in bird abundance after wildfire: importance of fire severity and time since fire
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Kristina M. Smucker et al.
2000 Chapter 2: Fire autecology
Synthesis, Technical Report or White Paper
Melanie Miller
1997 Effects of fire size and pattern on succession in Yellowstone National Park
Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Monica G. Turner et al.
1986 First decade plant succession following the Sundance forest fire, northern Idaho
Technical Report or White Paper
Peter F. Stickney
1974 Smoke column height related to fire intensity
Technical Report or White Paper
Rodney A. Norum

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