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Pyro-Ecophysiology: Shifting the Paradigm of Live Wildland Fuel Research

1
US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, 5775 Hwy 10 W, Missoula, MT 59808, USA
2
Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, 875 Perimeter Drive MS 1133, Moscow, ID 83844-1133, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 February 2018 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract

The most destructive wildland fires occur in mixtures of living and dead vegetation, yet very little attention has been given to the fundamental differences between factors that control their flammability. Historically, moisture content has been used to evaluate the relative flammability of live and dead fuels without considering major, unreported differences in the factors that control their variations across seasons and years. Physiological changes at both the leaf and whole plant level have the potential to explain ignition and fire behavior phenomena in live fuels that have been poorly explained for decades. Here, we explore how these physiological changes violate long-held assumptions about live fuel dynamics and we present a conceptual model that describes how plant carbon and water cycles independently and interactively influence plant flammability characteristics at both the leaf and whole plant scale. This new ecophysiology-based approach can help us expand our understanding of potential plant responses to environmental change and how those physiological changes may impact plant flammability. Furthermore, it may ultimately help us better manage wildland fires in an uncertain future. View Full-Text
Keywords: live fuels; fuel moisture; ecophysiology live fuels; fuel moisture; ecophysiology
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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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Jolly, W.M.; Johnson, D.M. Pyro-Ecophysiology: Shifting the Paradigm of Live Wildland Fuel Research. Fire 2018, 1, 8.

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