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Forests 2016, 7(11), 265; doi:10.3390/f7110265

Effects of Lakes on Wildfire Activity in the Boreal Forests of Saskatchewan, Canada

1
Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, 751 General Services Building, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1, Canada
2
Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, 5320 122nd Street, Edmonton, AB T5H 3S5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Yves Bergeron and Sylvie Gauthier
Received: 21 August 2016 / Revised: 28 October 2016 / Accepted: 31 October 2016 / Published: 5 November 2016
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Abstract

Large lakes can act as firebreaks resulting in distinct patterns in the forest mosaic. Although this is well acknowledged, much less is known about how wildfire is affected by different landscape measures of water and their interactions. Here we examine how these factors relate to historic patterns of wildfire over a 35-year period (1980–2014) for the boreal forest of Saskatchewan, Canada. This includes the amount of water in different-sized neighborhoods, the presence of islands, and the direction, distance, and shape of nearest lake of different sizes. All individual factors affected wildfire presence, with lake sizes ≥5000 ha and amount of water within a 1000-ha surrounding area the most supported spatial scales. Overall, wildfires were two-times less likely on islands, more likely further from lakes that were circular in shape, and in areas with less surrounding water. Interactive effects were common, including the effect of direction to lake as a function of distance from lakeshore and amount of surrounding water. Our results point to a strong, but complex, bottom-up control of local wildfire activity based on the configuration of natural firebreaks. In fact, fire rotation periods predicted for one area varied more than 15-fold (<47 to >700 years) depending on local patterns in lakes. Old-growth forests within this fire-prone ecosystem are therefore likely to depend on the surrounding configuration of larger lakes. View Full-Text
Keywords: boreal forest; firebreaks; fire frequency; fire refugia; lake shadows; landscape patterns; Saskatchewan; spatial scale; wildfire boreal forest; firebreaks; fire frequency; fire refugia; lake shadows; landscape patterns; Saskatchewan; spatial scale; wildfire
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Nielsen, S.E.; DeLancey, E.R.; Reinhardt, K.; Parisien, M.-A. Effects of Lakes on Wildfire Activity in the Boreal Forests of Saskatchewan, Canada. Forests 2016, 7, 265.

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