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A physiological understanding of organismal responses to fire

Author(s): Clare Stawski, Anna C. Doty
Year Published: 2019

Devastation of both natural and human habitats due to wildfires is becoming an increasingly prevalent global issue. Fire-adapted and fire-prone regions, such as California and parts of Australia, are experiencing more frequent and increasingly destructive wildfires, accompanied by longer wildfire seasons. Further, wildfires are becoming more commonplace in areas that historically do not regularly experience fire, causing an increased risk of habitat loss in less resilient ecosystems. The escalation of fire outbreaks is a result of several factors; however, at the forefront of these outbreaks is an increase in highly flammable dry vegetation due to sustained drought, a trend we will see growing in our changing climate. To mitigate the potentially detrimental outcomes of wildfires, it is imperative that we understand the response of ecosystems to fire not only from an ecological perspective, but also from a physiological perspective. Research focused on the physiological adaptations of organisms to environmental constraints caused by fire can give insight into how plants and animals respond to fire, on both short- and long-term scales. Importantly, this information needs to be adapted effectively into fire management plans to improve the recovery success of organisms after fire.

Citation: Stawski, Clare; Doty, Anna C. 2019. A physiological understanding of organismal responses to fire. Current Biology 29(5):R146-R147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.025
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire Effects, Recovery after fire, Resilience
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 19390
FRAMES RCS number: 57446
Record updated: Apr 16, 2019