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Multi-scale controls of historical forest-fire regimes: new insights from fire-scar networks

Author(s): Donald A. Falk, Emily K. Heyerdahl, Peter M. Brown, Calvin A. Farris, Peter Z. Fule, Donald McKenzie, Thomas W. Swetnam, Alan H. Taylor, Megan L. Van Horne
Year Published: 2011

Anticipating future forest-fire regimes under changing climate requires that scientists and natural resource managers understand the factors that control fire across space and time. Fire scars-proxy records of fires, formed in the growth rings of long-lived trees-provide an annually accurate window into past low-severity fire regimes. In western North America, networks of the fire-scar records spanning centuries to millennia now include hundreds to thousands of trees sampled across hundreds to many thousands of hectares. Development of these local and regional fire-scar networks has created a new data type for ecologists interested in landscape and climate regulation of ecosystem processes-which, for example, may help to explain why forest fires are widespread during certain years but not others. These data also offer crucial reference information on fire as a dynamic landscape process for use in ecosystem management, especially when managing for forest structure and resilience to climate change.

Citation: Falk, Donald A.; Heyerdahl, Emily K.; Brown, Peter M.; Farris, Calvin; Fule, Peter Z.; McKenzie, Donald; Swetnam, Thomas W.; Taylor, Alan H.; Van Horne, Megan L. 2011. Multi-scale controls of historical forest-fire regimes: new insights from fire-scar networks. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 9(8): 446-454.
Topic(s): Fire History, Fire Regime, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Fire Return Intervals
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article, Synthesis
NRFSN number: 8298
FRAMES RCS number: 11345
Record updated: May 11, 2018