Special Issue "Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity"

A special issue of Fire (ISSN 2571-6255).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2022 | Viewed by 11088

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Eva K. Strand
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, 875 Perimeter Drive MS 1133, Moscow, ID 83844-1133, USA
Interests: landscape ecology; geospatial analysis; plant community ecology; fire ecology; landscape dynamics; ecosystem processes
Dr. Darcy H. Hammond
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, 875 Perimeter Drive, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
Interests: ecology; restoration ecology; fire ecology; landscape ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wildfire size and frequency is increasing across Earth’s ecosystems, presenting us with a fire paradox. It is well documented that wildfires were more common in many ecosystems across the globe a couple of centuries ago compared to present time. Today, we are alarmed by the increase in fire frequency and burned area, although the magnitude is not yet approaching the area historically burned in most regions. We are caught in the complex task of defining effects of fire on ecosystems and biodiversity, entangled in fire regime characteristics such as fire frequency, severity, season of burn, fire size, and variability in time and space. A central question to ecologists, fire scientists, and natural resource managers is the impact changes in fire regime characteristics have on Earth’s biodiversity, both locally and regionally. Huston’s intermediate disturbance hypothesis suggests that local species diversity is maximized when disturbance is neither too rare nor too frequent, but how do we identify where and when, and at what scale, wildfires are too rare or too frequent?

The goal of this Special Issue is to compile a set of scientific articles describing how wildfire has impacted diversity in the ecosystem where they occurred. We invite articles that present measured or modeled effects of wildfire on diversity across various scales and dimensions of fire regime metrics and biological taxa, including but not limited to:

  • Effects of wildfire on diversity of any taxa in any ecosystem
  • Relationships between fire effects and abiotic factors such as climate
  • Predictions of changes in fire effects as a result of a changing climate
  • Effects of scale in the interpretation of fire effects on biodiversity
  • Consequences of larger burned area for the composition of communities and landscapes
  • Consequences of wildfire on biogeochemistry, such as the global carbon cycle

Dr. Eva K. Strand
Dr. Darcy H. Hammond
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Fire is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • wildfire
  • fire effects
  • biodiversity
  • fire regimes
  • disturbance
  • climate change
  • biotic community
  • landscape composition

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
The Fire and Fodder Reversal Phenomenon: Vertebrate Herbivore Activity in Burned and Unburned Tasmanian Ecosystems
Fire 2022, 5(4), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5040111 - 01 Aug 2022
Viewed by 762
Abstract
Very few multi-species or ecosystem comparisons of post-fire vertebrate herbivore activity and food preference exist to inform fire management and conservation strategies. We inferred post-fire (1–3 years) native and introduced vertebrate herbivore activity and attraction to six diverse temperate vegetation communities (grassland to [...] Read more.
Very few multi-species or ecosystem comparisons of post-fire vertebrate herbivore activity and food preference exist to inform fire management and conservation strategies. We inferred post-fire (1–3 years) native and introduced vertebrate herbivore activity and attraction to six diverse temperate vegetation communities (grassland to rainforest) from scat counts. We hypothesised that where fire reduced herbaceous and grassy vegetation (‘fodder’), vertebrate herbivores would decline, and that post-fire preferences of native versus exotic herbivores would differ significantly. Instead, we found evidence for a ‘fire and fodder reversal phenomenon’ whereby native macropod and exotic deer scats were more abundant after fire in consistently ‘fodder-poor’ vegetation types (e.g., heath) but less abundant after fire in previously fodder-rich vegetation communities (e.g., grassland). Fodder cover predicted native macropod, wombat, and introduced deer activity and bare ground cover was strongly associated with introduced herbivore activity only, with the latter indicating post-fire competition for food sources due to their abundance in high-altitude open ecosystems. We, therefore, found environmental and vegetation predictors for each individual species/group and suggest broadscale multi-environment, multispecies observations to be informative for conservation management in potentially overlapping post-fire niches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity)
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Article
Ground-Dwelling Arachnids and Fire Disturbance: A Case Study in Northeastern Patagonia (Argentina)
Fire 2022, 5(4), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5040091 - 04 Jul 2022
Viewed by 960
Abstract
Fire is one of the main disturbances in northeastern Patagonia. Wildfires are becoming more frequent and severe, threatening the sustainability of local ecosystems. Arachnids respond markedly to environmental modifications and can regulate processes linked to lower trophic levels. Assessing changes in arachnid diversity [...] Read more.
Fire is one of the main disturbances in northeastern Patagonia. Wildfires are becoming more frequent and severe, threatening the sustainability of local ecosystems. Arachnids respond markedly to environmental modifications and can regulate processes linked to lower trophic levels. Assessing changes in arachnid diversity is useful to understand the effect of fire on animal assemblages and ecosystem functionality. The aim of this study was to analyze the response of the ground-dwelling arachnid assemblage to fire disturbance. Eight sampling sites were selected: four burned and four unburned. Arachnids were sampled using pitfall traps. The taxonomic and functional structure of the assemblage was found to differ between burned and unburned areas. This change was related to major taxa turnover. On the other hand, the alpha diversity did not differ significantly according to fire disturbance. The abundance of specialist spiders decreased significantly in burned areas, possibly related to post-fire changes in the composition and structure of the plant community. In addition, significant species indicators of unburned and burned sites were found. The results of this study are useful for ecosystem management and the development of biodiversity conservation strategies in northeastern Patagonia, an area severely affected by fires. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity)
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Article
Impact of Fires on Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Priority Bird Species for Conservation in Bolivia
Fire 2022, 5(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5010004 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2216
Abstract
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are sites that contribute significantly to the protection of the planet’s biodiversity. In this study, we evaluated the annual burned areas and the intensity of the fires that affected Bolivia and its 58 KBAs (23.3 million ha) over the [...] Read more.
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are sites that contribute significantly to the protection of the planet’s biodiversity. In this study, we evaluated the annual burned areas and the intensity of the fires that affected Bolivia and its 58 KBAs (23.3 million ha) over the last 20 years (2001–2020). In particular, we analyzed the impact of wildfires on the distribution of Bolivian birds at the levels of overall species richness, endemic species and threatened species (Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable). We found that at the KBA level, the cumulative area of wildfires was 21.6 million ha, while the absolute area impacted was 5.6 million ha. The KBAs most affected by the wildfires are located in the departments of Beni and Santa Cruz; mainly in the KBAs Área Natural de Manejo Integrado San Matías, Oeste del río Mamoré, Este del río Mamoré, Noel Kempff Mercado and Área Natural de Manejo Integrado Otuquis. The wildfires impacted the distribution of 54 threatened species and 15 endemic species in the KBAs. Based on the results of this study, it is a priority to communicate to Bolivian government authorities the importance of KBAs as a strategy for the conservation of the country’s biodiversity and the threats resulting from anthropogenic fires. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity)
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Article
Environmental Influences on Density and Height Growth of Natural Ponderosa Pine Regeneration following Wildfires
Fire 2021, 4(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4040080 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1856
Abstract
Over the past century the size and severity of wildfires, as well as post-fire recovery processes (e.g., seedling establishment), have been altered from historical levels due to management policies and changing climate. Tree seedling establishment and growth drive future overstory tree dynamics after [...] Read more.
Over the past century the size and severity of wildfires, as well as post-fire recovery processes (e.g., seedling establishment), have been altered from historical levels due to management policies and changing climate. Tree seedling establishment and growth drive future overstory tree dynamics after wildfire. Post-fire tree regeneration can be highly variable depending on burn severity, pre-fire forest condition, tree regeneration strategies, and climate; however, few studies have examined how different abiotic and biotic factors impact seedling density and growth and the interactions among those factors. We measured seedling density and height growth in the period 2015–2016 on three wildfires that burned in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests in the period 2000–2007 across broad environmental and burn severity gradients. Using a non-parametric multiplicative regression model, we found that downed woody fuel load, duff depth, and fall precipitation best explained variation in seedling density, while the distance to nearest seed tree, a soil productivity index, duff depth, and spring precipitation as snow best explained seedling height growth. Overall, results highlight the importance of burn severity and post-fire climate in tree regeneration, although the primary factors influencing seedling density and height growth vary. Drier conditions and changes to precipitation seasonality have the potential to influence tree establishment, survival, and growth in post-fire environments, which could lead to significant impacts for long-term forest recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity)
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Article
Mixed-Severity Wildfire as a Driver of Vegetation Change in an Arizona Madrean Sky Island System, USA
Fire 2021, 4(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4040078 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1948
Abstract
Fire is a powerful natural disturbance influencing vegetation patterns across landscapes. Recent transitions from mixed-species forests to post-fire shrublands after severe wildfire is an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in pine-oak and conifer forest ecosystems in southwestern North America. However, we know little about how [...] Read more.
Fire is a powerful natural disturbance influencing vegetation patterns across landscapes. Recent transitions from mixed-species forests to post-fire shrublands after severe wildfire is an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in pine-oak and conifer forest ecosystems in southwestern North America. However, we know little about how variation in fire severity influences other common forest types in the region. In this study, we evaluated fire-induced changes in woody plant community composition and forest structure in Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona in the United States that hosts a diverse set of vegetation types. Cluster analysis of the pre-fire vegetation data identified three dominant pre-fire vegetation types including juniper woodland, piñon forest, and pine-oak forest. All vegetation types experienced significant tree mortality across a wide range of size classes and species, from forests to shrublands. The magnitude of change within sample plots varied with fire severity, which was mediated by topography. Significant shifts in dominance away from coniferous obligate seeder trees to resprouting hardwoods and other shrubs occurred across all vegetation types in response to the fire. Regeneration from seed can be episodic, but projected increases in aridity and fire frequency may promote continued dominance by hardwoods and fire- and drought-resistant shrub communities, which is a regional forest management concern as wildfire size and severity continue to increase throughout the southwestern USA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity)
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Article
Effects of Wildfire and the Presence of the Invasive Paulownia tomentosa on the Regeneration of Native Tree Species in North-Central Appalachia
Fire 2021, 4(3), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030060 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1361
Abstract
A wildfire occurred in Shawnee State Forest located in southern Ohio that consumed 1215 hectares. Based on earlier forest inventories it was known that paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa), a non-native invasive tree species, occurred in the forest. The objective of this study [...] Read more.
A wildfire occurred in Shawnee State Forest located in southern Ohio that consumed 1215 hectares. Based on earlier forest inventories it was known that paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa), a non-native invasive tree species, occurred in the forest. The objective of this study was to determine if paulownia heavily colonized areas two years after the fire where the burn occurred, and if its presence had a negative impact on the regeneration (<137 cm height) of native species—red and white oaks (Quercus sp.), red maple (Acer rubrum), and yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Two years after the fire, paulownia had invaded the burned areas but not at significantly higher densities than occurred in the unburned areas. Fire significantly reduced the number of regenerating stems of white oak and red maple two years after the fire, whereas the number of regenerating stems of red oak increased slightly and that of yellow-poplar increased significantly. In areas where paulownia occurred that experienced wildfire, all species studied displayed a reduction in the number of regenerating stems compared to paulownia’s absence in the burn areas. Where paulownia occurred in areas not affected by the wildfire, all the native species studied displayed a reduction in the number of regenerating stems. The average heights of red oak, white oak, and red maple were significantly taller when growing in areas affected by the wildfire due to a more open canopy. However, there was no significant change in the average heights of yellow-poplar. The presence of paulownia in both the burned and unburned areas reduced the number of regenerating stems of the native species studied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Wildfire on Biodiversity)
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