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Seasonal Patterns and Drivers of Ashe Juniper Foliar Live Fuel Moisture and Relevance to Fire Planning

Author(s): W. Matt McCaw, Devin M. Grobert, S. Bruce Brown, Sam Strickland, Guy A. Thompson, Glen Gillman, Lucien M. Ball, Christopher D. Robinson
Year Published: 2018

Foliar live fuel moisture (LFM)-the weight of water in living plant foliage expressed as a percentage of dry weight-typically affects fire behavior in live wildland fuels. In juniper communities, juniper LFM is important for planning prescribed burns and wildfire response but can be time consuming to obtain regularly. Also, there has been little analysis of the ways in which juniper LFM varies seasonally or is affected by weather conditions, soil moisture, or other variables such as drought index. Using an eight-year dataset of Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei J. Buchholz) LFM observations from four sites in central Texas, USA, we found that the interannual variability of Ashe juniper LFM differs among seasons. Throughout the eight-year sample period, winter LFM fluctuated within a narrow range between about 80 % and 120 % and was weakly related to Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). During summer, LFM fluctuated widely and was more strongly related to KBDI. KBDI below 315 was positively related to LFM, while KBDI above 526 was strongly negatively related to LFM. For this region, we offer a KBDI of about 500 as a threshold for fire planning, above which the potential for critically low Ashe juniper LFM becomes more likely.

Citation: McCaw, W. Matt; Grobert, Devin M.; Brown, S. Bruce; Strickland, Sam; Thompson, Guy A.; Gillman, Glen; Ball, Lucien M.; Robinson, Christopher D. 2018. Seasonal patterns and drivers of Ashe juniper foliar live fuel moisture and relevance to fire planning. Fire Ecology 14(1):50-64. DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.140150064
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 17681
FRAMES RCS number: 55918
Record updated: Jun 4, 2018