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Land 2017, 6(1), 19; doi:10.3390/land6010019

Characterizing Spatial Neighborhoods of Refugia Following Large Fires in Northern New Mexico USA

1
Haire Laboratory for Landscape Ecology, Rockport, MA 01966, USA
2
Center for Environment and Sustainability, Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO 81231, USA
3
Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, USDA Forest Service, Missoula, MT 59801, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Alistair M. S. Smith, James Lutz, Chad Hoffman, Grant Williamson and Andrew Hudak
Received: 14 November 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildland Fires)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3211 KB, uploaded 7 March 2017]   |  

Abstract

The spatial patterns resulting from large fires include refugial habitats that support surviving legacies and promote ecosystem recovery. To better understand the diverse ecological functions of refugia on burn mosaics, we used remotely sensed data to quantify neighborhood patterns of areas relatively unchanged following the 2011 Las Conchas fire. Spatial patterns of refugia measured within 10-ha moving windows varied across a gradient from areas of high density, clustered in space, to sparsely populated neighborhoods that occurred in the background matrix. The scaling of these patterns was related to the underlying structure of topography measured by slope, aspect and potential soil wetness, and spatially varying climate. Using a nonmetric multidimensional scaling analysis of species cover data collected post-Las Conchas, we found that trees and forest associates were present across the refugial gradient, but communities also exhibited a range of species compositions and potential functions. Spatial patterns of refugia quantified for three previous burns (La Mesa 1977, Dome 1996, Cerro Grande 2000) were dynamic between fire events, but most refugia persisted through at least two fires. Efforts to maintain burn heterogeneity and its ecological functions can begin with identifying where refugia are likely to occur, using terrain-based microclimate models, burn severity models and available field data. View Full-Text
Keywords: refugial gradient; Gaussian kernel; species ordination; generalized additive models; terrain; spatial climate; disturbance interactions; rear edge populations; Pinus ponderosa; burn severity; Las Conchas refugial gradient; Gaussian kernel; species ordination; generalized additive models; terrain; spatial climate; disturbance interactions; rear edge populations; Pinus ponderosa; burn severity; Las Conchas
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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).

Supplementary material

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: https://doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2017-0005
    Link: https://doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2017-0005
    Description: Northern New Mexico post-fire refugia data archive

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Haire, S.L.; Coop, J.D.; Miller, C. Characterizing Spatial Neighborhoods of Refugia Following Large Fires in Northern New Mexico USA. Land 2017, 6, 19.

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