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The Effect of Ecophysiological Traits on Live Fuel Moisture Content

1
La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, University of California, 619 Charles. E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
2
Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, 612 Wilson Road, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, 612 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
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National Park Service, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 401 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, USA
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United States Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Sequoia-Kings Canyon Field Station, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current Address: Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Lab, 902 Battelle Blvd, Richland, WA 99354, USA.
Received: 5 April 2019 / Revised: 6 May 2019 / Accepted: 17 May 2019 / Published: 22 May 2019
Live fuel moisture content (LFMC) is an important metric for fire danger ratings. However, there is limited understanding of the physiological control of LFMC or how it varies among co-occurring species. This is a problem for biodiverse yet fire-prone regions such as southern California. We monitored LFMC and water potential for 11 native woody species, and measured ecophysiological traits related to access to water, plant water status, water use regulation, and drought adaptation to answer: (1) What are the physiological mechanisms associated with changes in LFMC? and (2) How do seasonal patterns of LFMC differ among a variety of shrub species? We found that LFMC varied widely among species during the wet winter months, but converged during the dry summer months. Traits associated with LFMC patterns were those related to access to water, such as predawn and minimum seasonal water potentials (Ψ), and water use regulation, such as transpiration. The relationship between LFMC and Ψ displayed a distinct inflection point. For most species, this inflection point was also associated with the turgor loss point, an important drought-adaptation trait. Other systems will benefit from studies that incorporate physiological mechanisms into determining critical LFMC thresholds to expand the discipline of pyro-ecophysiology. View Full-Text
Keywords: live fuel moisture content; water potential; fire; pyro-ecophysiology; chaparral; water relations; functional traits live fuel moisture content; water potential; fire; pyro-ecophysiology; chaparral; water relations; functional traits
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Pivovaroff, A.L.; Emery, N.; Sharifi, M.R.; Witter, M.; Keeley, J.E.; Rundel, P.W. The Effect of Ecophysiological Traits on Live Fuel Moisture Content. Fire 2019, 2, 28.

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