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Special Issue "Fire Regimes: Spatial and Temporal Variability and Their Effects on Forests"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2016)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Yves Bergeron

Forest Research Institute, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue 445 boul. de l’université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X5E4, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: forests fire regimes; forests ecology; dendrochronologie
Guest Editor
Dr. Sylvie Gauthier

Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre, 1055 rue du P.E.P.S., P.O. Box 10380, Stn, Sainte-Foy Québec, QC G1V 4C7, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: forests fire; boreal forests; stand dynamics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fire regimes (occurrence, cycle, severity, size, etc.) are key factors in many forest ecosystems, as they are often critical drivers of forest composition, dynamics, and ecosystem processes. Fire regimes vary in space and time according to climatic, physical and biological factors. A better understanding of the interacting factors controlling fire regime may contribute to improving fire and forest management and their future projection in the context of global change. Knowledge of fire regimes effects on natural landscapes is also used in forestry as a template to manage the forest for wood production. This approach, by keeping biodiversity and ecological processes associated with natural fire regime, may also help in maintaining forest productivity and resilience in the face of climate change. This Special Issue aims to synthesize current understanding of factors affecting fire regime characteristics, to present recent research on fire regimes and their effects on forest ecosystems, and to illustrate how this knowledge could be translated into forest or fire management strategies in the context of global change.

Submitted manuscripts must be original contributions, not ones previously published or submitted to other journals. Papers published or submitted for publication in conference proceedings may be considered, provided that they are considerably extended and improved.

Prof. Dr. Yves Bergeron
Dr. Sylvie Gauthier
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 papers will be 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. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly 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 1800 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

  • Fire regime
  • Wildfire
  • Natural disturbances
  • Forest ecosystems
  • Forest management
  • Global change

Published Papers (24 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Influence of Fuel Load Dynamics on Carbon Emission by Wildfires in the Clay Belt Boreal Landscape
Forests 2017, 8(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8010009
Received: 27 September 2016 / Revised: 6 December 2016 / Accepted: 18 December 2016 / Published: 24 December 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (3590 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Old-growth forests play a decisive role in preserving biodiversity and ecological functions. In an environment frequently disturbed by fire, the importance of old-growth forests as both a carbon stock as well as a source of emissions when burnt is not fully understood. Here, [...] Read more.
Old-growth forests play a decisive role in preserving biodiversity and ecological functions. In an environment frequently disturbed by fire, the importance of old-growth forests as both a carbon stock as well as a source of emissions when burnt is not fully understood. Here, we report on carbon accumulation with time since the last fire (TSF) in the dominant forest types of the Clay Belt region in eastern North America. To do so, we performed a fuel inventory (tree biomass, herbs and shrubs, dead woody debris, and duff loads) along four chronosequences. Carbon emissions by fire through successional stages were simulated using the Canadian Fire Effects Model. Our results show that fuel accumulates with TSF, especially in coniferous forests. Potential carbon emissions were on average 11.9 t·ha−1 and 29.5 t·ha−1 for old-growth and young forests, respectively. In conclusion, maintaining old-growth forests in the Clay Belt landscape not only ensures a sustainable management of the boreal forest, but it also optimizes the carbon storage. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effects of Lakes on Wildfire Activity in the Boreal Forests of Saskatchewan, Canada
Forests 2016, 7(11), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7110265
Received: 21 August 2016 / Revised: 28 October 2016 / Accepted: 31 October 2016 / Published: 5 November 2016
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (10079 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fire Regime Characteristics along Environmental Gradients in Spain
Forests 2016, 7(11), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7110262
Received: 26 June 2016 / Revised: 28 October 2016 / Accepted: 1 November 2016 / Published: 4 November 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1782 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Concern regarding global change has increased the need to understand the relationship between fire regime characteristics and the environment. Pyrogeographical theory suggests that fire regimes are constrained by climate, vegetation and fire ignition processes, but it is not obvious how fire regime characteristics [...] Read more.
Concern regarding global change has increased the need to understand the relationship between fire regime characteristics and the environment. Pyrogeographical theory suggests that fire regimes are constrained by climate, vegetation and fire ignition processes, but it is not obvious how fire regime characteristics are related to those factors. We used a three-matrix approach with a multivariate statistical methodology that combined an ordination method and fourth-corner analysis for hypothesis testing to investigate the relationship between fire regime characteristics and environmental gradients across Spain. Our results suggest that fire regime characteristics (i.e., density and seasonality of fire activity) are constrained primarily by direct gradients based on climate, population, and resource gradients based on forest potential productivity. Our results can be used to establish a predictive model for how fire regimes emerge in order to support fire management, particularly as global environmental changes impact fire regime characteristics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Burning Potential of Fire Refuges in the Boreal Mixedwood Forest
Forests 2016, 7(10), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7100246
Received: 8 July 2016 / Revised: 30 September 2016 / Accepted: 8 October 2016 / Published: 21 October 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2820 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In boreal ecosystems, wildfire severity (i.e., the extent of fire-related tree mortality) is affected by environmental conditions and fire intensity. A burned area usually includes tree patches that partially or entirely escaped fire. There are two types of post-fire residual patches: (1) patches [...] Read more.
In boreal ecosystems, wildfire severity (i.e., the extent of fire-related tree mortality) is affected by environmental conditions and fire intensity. A burned area usually includes tree patches that partially or entirely escaped fire. There are two types of post-fire residual patches: (1) patches that only escaped the last fire; and (2) patches with lower fire susceptibility, also called fire refuges, that escaped several consecutive fires, likely due to particular site characteristics. The main objective of this study was to test if particular environmental conditions and stand characteristics could explain the presence of fire refuges in the mixedwood boreal forest. The FlamMap3 fire behavior model running at the landscape scale was used on the present-day Lake Duparquet forest mosaic and on four other experimental scenarios. FlamMap3 was first calibrated using BehavePlus and realistic rates of fire spread obtained from the Canadian Fire Behavior Prediction system. The results, based on thousands of runs, exclude the effects of firebreaks, topography, fuel type, and microtopography to explain the presence of fire refuges, but rather highlight the important role of moisture conditions in the fuel beds. Moist conditions are likely attributed to former small depressions having been filled with organic matter rather than present-day variations in ground surface topography. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fire Regimes of Remnant Pitch Pine Communities in the Ridge and Valley Region of Central Pennsylvania, USA
Forests 2016, 7(10), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7100224
Received: 29 July 2016 / Revised: 23 September 2016 / Accepted: 26 September 2016 / Published: 2 October 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (5359 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many fire-adapted ecosystems in the northeastern U.S. are converting to fire-intolerant vegetation communities due to fire suppression in the 20th century. Prescribed fire and other vegetation management activities that increase resilience and resistance to global changes are increasingly being implemented, particularly on public [...] Read more.
Many fire-adapted ecosystems in the northeastern U.S. are converting to fire-intolerant vegetation communities due to fire suppression in the 20th century. Prescribed fire and other vegetation management activities that increase resilience and resistance to global changes are increasingly being implemented, particularly on public lands. For many fire-dependent communities, there is little quantitative data describing historical fire regime attributes such as frequency, severity, and seasonality, or how these varied through time. Where available, fire-scarred live and remnant trees, including stumps and snags, offer valuable insights into historical fire regimes through tree-ring and fire-scar analyses. In this study, we dated fire scars from 66 trees at two sites in the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania, and described fire frequency, severity, and seasonality from the mid-17th century to 2013. Fires were historically frequent, of low to moderate severity, occurred mostly during the dormant season, and were influenced by aspect and topography. The current extended fire-free interval is unprecedented in the previous 250–300 years at both sites. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fire Regime in Marginal Jack Pine Populations at Their Southern Limit of Distribution, Riding Mountain National Park, Central Canada
Forests 2016, 7(10), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7100219
Received: 12 July 2016 / Revised: 10 September 2016 / Accepted: 23 September 2016 / Published: 30 September 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (6448 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In central Canada, long fire history reconstructions are rare. In a context where both anthropogenic and climate influences on fire regime have changed, Parks Canada has a mandate to maintain ecological integrity. Here we present a fire history derived from fire-scarred jack pine [...] Read more.
In central Canada, long fire history reconstructions are rare. In a context where both anthropogenic and climate influences on fire regime have changed, Parks Canada has a mandate to maintain ecological integrity. Here we present a fire history derived from fire-scarred jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) trees growing at their southern distribution limit in Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP). In Lake Katherine Fire Management Unit (LKFMU), a subregion within the park, fire history was reconstructed from archival records, tree-ring records, and charcoal in lake sediment. From about 1450 to 1850 common era (CE) the fire return intervals varied from 37 to 125 years, according to models. During the period 1864–1930 the study area burned frequently (Weibull Mean Fire Intervals between 2.66 and 5.62 years); this period coincided with the end of First Nations occupation and the start of European settlement. Major recruitment pulses were associated with the stand-replacing 1864 and 1894 fires. This period nevertheless corresponded to a reduction in charcoal accumulation. The current fire-free period in LKFMU (1930–today) coincides with RMNP establishment, exclusion of First Nations land use and increased fire suppression. Charcoal accumulation further decreased during this period. In the absence of fire, jack pine exclusion in LKFMU is foreseeable and the use of prescribed burning is advocated to conserve this protected jack pine ecosystem, at the southern margins of its range, and in the face of potential climate change. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fire Regime along Latitudinal Gradients of Continuous to Discontinuous Coniferous Boreal Forests in Eastern Canada
Forests 2016, 7(10), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7100211
Received: 6 June 2016 / Revised: 1 September 2016 / Accepted: 8 September 2016 / Published: 24 September 2016
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (5839 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Fire is the main disturbance in North American coniferous boreal forests. In Northern Quebec, Canada, where forest management is not allowed, the landscape is gradually constituted of more opened lichen woodlands. Those forests are discontinuous and show a low regeneration potential resulting from [...] Read more.
Fire is the main disturbance in North American coniferous boreal forests. In Northern Quebec, Canada, where forest management is not allowed, the landscape is gradually constituted of more opened lichen woodlands. Those forests are discontinuous and show a low regeneration potential resulting from the cumulative effects of harsh climatic conditions and very short fire intervals. In a climate change context, and because the forest industry is interested in opening new territories to forest management in the north, it is crucial to better understand how and why fire risk varies from the north to the south at the transition between the discontinuous and continuous boreal forest. We used time-since-fire (TSF) data from fire archives as well as a broad field campaign in Quebec’s coniferous boreal forests along four north-south transects in order to reconstruct the fire history of the past 150 to 300 years. We performed survival analyses in each transect in order to (1) determine if climate influences the fire risk along the latitudinal gradient; (2) fractionate the transects into different fire risk zones; and (3) quantify the fire cycle—defined as the time required to burn an area equivalent to the size of the study area—of each zone and compare its estimated value with current fire activity. Results suggest that drought conditions are moderately to highly responsible for the increasing fire risk from south to north in the three westernmost transects. No climate influence was observed in the last one, possibly because of its complex physical environment. Fire cycles are shortening from south to north, and from east to west. Limits between high and low fire risk zones are consistent with the limit between discontinuous and continuous forests, established based on recent fire activity. Compared to the last 40 years, fire cycles of the last 150–300 years are shorter. Our results suggest that as drought episodes are expected to become more frequent in the future, fire activity might increase significantly, possibly leading to greater openings within forests. However, if fire activity increases and yet remains within the range of variability of the last 150–300 years, the limit between open and closed forests should stay relatively stable. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fires of the Last Millennium Led to Landscapes Dominated by Early Successional Species in Québec’s Clay Belt Boreal Forest, Canada
Forests 2016, 7(9), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7090205
Received: 3 August 2016 / Revised: 18 August 2016 / Accepted: 7 September 2016 / Published: 15 September 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (7650 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study presents the long-term (over the last 8000 years) natural variability of a portion of the Picea mariana-moss bioclimatic domain belonging to Québec’s Clay Belt. The landscapes are dominated by mesic-subhydric clay and early successional forests composed of Populus tremuloides, [...] Read more.
This study presents the long-term (over the last 8000 years) natural variability of a portion of the Picea mariana-moss bioclimatic domain belonging to Québec’s Clay Belt. The landscapes are dominated by mesic-subhydric clay and early successional forests composed of Populus tremuloides, Pinus banksiana and Picea mariana. The natural variability (fires and vegetation) of one of these landscapes was reconstructed by means of pollen and macroscopic charcoal analysis of sedimentary archives from two peatlands in order to assess when and how such landscapes were formed. Following an initial afforestation period dominated by Picea (8000–6800 cal. Years BP), small and low-severity fires favored the development and maintenance of landscapes dominated by Picea and Abies balsamea during a long period (6800–1000 BP). Over the last 1000 years, fires have become more severe and covered a larger area. These fires initiated a recurrence dynamic of early successional stands maintained until today. A decline of Abies balsamea has occurred over the last centuries, while the pollen representation of Pinus banksiana has recently reached its highest abundance. We hypothesize that the fire regime of the last millennium could characterize Québec’s Clay Belt belonging to the western Picea mariana-moss and Abies balsamea-Betula papyrifera domains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle How Time since Forest Fire Affects Stand Structure, Soil Physical-Chemical Properties and Soil CO2 Efflux in Hemiboreal Scots Pine Forest Fire Chronosequence?
Forests 2016, 7(9), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7090201
Received: 7 July 2016 / Revised: 31 August 2016 / Accepted: 6 September 2016 / Published: 12 September 2016
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Abstract
We compared the changes in aboveground biomass and initial recovery of C pools and CO2 efflux following fire disturbances in Scots pine (Pinus sylvesteris L.) stands with different time since stand-replacing fire. The study areas are located in hemiboreal vegetation zone, [...] Read more.
We compared the changes in aboveground biomass and initial recovery of C pools and CO2 efflux following fire disturbances in Scots pine (Pinus sylvesteris L.) stands with different time since stand-replacing fire. The study areas are located in hemiboreal vegetation zone, in north-western Estonia, in Vihterpalu. Six areas where the last fire occurred in the year 1837, 1940, 1951, 1982, 1997, and 2008 were chosen for the study. Our results show that forest fire has a substantial effect on the C content in the top soil layer, but not in the mineral soil layers. Soil respiration showed a chronological response to the time since the forest fire and the values were lowest in the area where the fire was in the year 2008. The respiration values also followed seasonal pattern being highest in August and lowest in May and November. The CO2 effluxes were lowest on the newly burned area through the entire growing season. There was also a positive correlation between soil temperature and soil respiration values in our study areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle 350 Years of Fire-Climate-Human Interactions in a Great Lakes Sandy Outwash Plain
Forests 2016, 7(9), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7090189
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 16 August 2016 / Accepted: 18 August 2016 / Published: 27 August 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3426 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Throughout much of eastern North America, quantitative records of historical fire regimes and interactions with humans are absent. Annual resolution fire scar histories provide data on fire frequency, extent, and severity, but also can be used to understand fire-climate-human interactions. This study used [...] Read more.
Throughout much of eastern North America, quantitative records of historical fire regimes and interactions with humans are absent. Annual resolution fire scar histories provide data on fire frequency, extent, and severity, but also can be used to understand fire-climate-human interactions. This study used tree-ring dated fire scars from red pines (Pinus resinosa) at four sites in the Northern Sands Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin to quantify the interactions among fire occurrence and seasonality, drought, and humans. New methods for assessing the influence of human ignitions on fire regimes were developed. A temporal and spatial index of wildland fire was significantly correlated (r = 0.48) with drought indices (Palmer Drought Severity Index, PDSI). Fire intervals varied through time with human activities that included early French Jesuit missions, European trade (fur), diseases, war, and land use. Comparisons of historical fire records suggest that annual climate in this region has a broad influence on the occurrence of fire years in the Great Lakes region. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Vegetation Mortality within Natural Wildfire Events in the Western Canadian Boreal Forest: What Burns and Why?
Forests 2016, 7(9), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7090187
Received: 17 June 2016 / Revised: 18 August 2016 / Accepted: 19 August 2016 / Published: 26 August 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2156 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wildfires are a common disturbance event in the Canadian boreal forest. Within event boundaries, the level of vegetation mortality varies greatly. Understanding where surviving vegetation occurs within fire events and how this relates to pre-fire vegetation, topography, and fire weather can inform forest [...] Read more.
Wildfires are a common disturbance event in the Canadian boreal forest. Within event boundaries, the level of vegetation mortality varies greatly. Understanding where surviving vegetation occurs within fire events and how this relates to pre-fire vegetation, topography, and fire weather can inform forest management decisions. We used pre-fire forest inventory data, digital elevation maps, and records of fire weather for 37 naturally-occurring wildfires (1961 to 1982; 30 to 5500 ha) covering a wide range of conditions in the western Canadian boreal forest to investigate these relationships using multinomial logistic models. Overall, vegetation mortality related to a combination of factors representing different spatial scales. Lower vegetation mortality occurred where there was lower fuel continuity and when fires occurred under non-drought conditions. Higher classification accuracy occurred for class extremes of no mortality (i.e., unburned areas within the burn event) and high mortality; partial vegetation mortality classes were harder to distinguish. This research contributes to the knowledge required for natural pattern emulation strategies, and developing responses to climate change. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Spatio-Temporal Configurations of Human-Caused Fires in Spain through Point Patterns
Forests 2016, 7(9), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7090185
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 15 August 2016 / Accepted: 18 August 2016 / Published: 26 August 2016
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (2141 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Human-caused wildfires are often regarded as unpredictable, but usually occur in patterns aggregated over space and time. We analysed the spatio-temporal configuration of 7790 anthropogenic wildfires (2007–2013) in nine study areas distributed throughout Peninsular Spain by using the Ripley’s K-function. We also related [...] Read more.
Human-caused wildfires are often regarded as unpredictable, but usually occur in patterns aggregated over space and time. We analysed the spatio-temporal configuration of 7790 anthropogenic wildfires (2007–2013) in nine study areas distributed throughout Peninsular Spain by using the Ripley’s K-function. We also related these aggregation patterns to weather, population density, and landscape structure descriptors of each study area. Our results provide statistical evidence for spatio-temporal structures around a maximum of 4 km and six months. These aggregations lose strength when the spatial and temporal distances increase. At short time lags after a wildfire (<1 month), the probability of another fire occurrence is high at any distance in the range of 0–16 km. When considering larger time lags (up to two years), the probability of fire occurrence is high only at short distances (>3 km). These aggregated patterns vary depending on location in Spain. Wildfires seem to aggregate within fewer days (heat waves) in warm and dry Mediterranean regions than in milder Atlantic areas (bimodal fire season). Wildfires aggregate spatially over shorter distances in diverse, fragmented landscapes with many small and complex patches. Urban interfaces seem to spatially concentrate fire occurrence, while wildland-agriculture interfaces correlate with larger aggregates. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Estimates of Wildfire Emissions in Boreal Forests of China
Forests 2016, 7(8), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7080158
Received: 29 March 2016 / Revised: 7 July 2016 / Accepted: 21 July 2016 / Published: 1 August 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3052 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wildfire emissions in the boreal forests yield an important contribution to the chemical budget of the troposphere. To assess the contribution of wildfire to the emissions of atmospheric trace species in the Great Xing’an Mountains (GXM), which is also the most severe fire-prone [...] Read more.
Wildfire emissions in the boreal forests yield an important contribution to the chemical budget of the troposphere. To assess the contribution of wildfire to the emissions of atmospheric trace species in the Great Xing’an Mountains (GXM), which is also the most severe fire-prone boreal forest region in China, we estimated various wildfire activities by combining explicit spatio-temporal remote sensing data with fire-induced emission models. We observed 9998 fire scars with 46,096 km2 in the GXM between the years 1986 and 2010. The years 1987 and 2003 contributed 33.2% and 22.9%, respectively, in burned area during the 25 years. Fire activity is the strongest in May. Most large fires occurred in the north region of the GXM between 50° N and 54° N latitude due to much drier weather and higher fire danger in the northern region than in the southern region of the study domain. Evergreen and deciduous needleleaf forest and deciduous broadleaf forest are the main sources of emissions, accounting for 84%, 81%, 84%, 87%, 89%, 86%, 85% and 74% of the total annual CO2, CH4, CO, PM10, PM2.5, SO2, BC and NOx emissions, respectively. Wildfire emissions from shrub, grassland and cropland only account for a small fraction of the total emissions level (approximately 4%–11%). Comparisons of our results with other published estimates of wildfire emissions show reasonable agreement. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Mapping Local Effects of Forest Properties on Fire Risk across Canada
Forests 2016, 7(8), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7080157
Received: 9 May 2016 / Revised: 6 July 2016 / Accepted: 19 July 2016 / Published: 27 July 2016
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (4887 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Fire is a dominant mechanism of forest renewal in most of Canada’s forests and its activity is predicted to increase over the coming decades. Individual fire events have been considered to be non-selective with regards to forest properties, but evidence now suggests otherwise. [...] Read more.
Fire is a dominant mechanism of forest renewal in most of Canada’s forests and its activity is predicted to increase over the coming decades. Individual fire events have been considered to be non-selective with regards to forest properties, but evidence now suggests otherwise. Our objective was therefore to quantify the effect of forest properties on fire selectivity or avoidance, evaluate the stability of these effects across varying burn rates, and use these results to map local fire risk across the forests of Canada. We used Canada-wide MODIS-based maps of annual fires and of forest properties to identify burned and unburned pixels for the 2002–2011 period and to bin them into classes of forest composition (% conifer and broadleaved deciduous), above-ground tree biomass and stand age. Logistic binomial regressions were then used to quantify fire selectivity by forest properties classes and by zones of homogeneous fire regime (HFR). Results suggest that fire exhibits a strong selectivity for conifer stands, but an even stronger avoidance of broadleaved stands. In terms of age classes, fire also shows a strong avoidance for young (0 to 29 year) stands. The large differences among regional burn rates do not significantly alter the overall preference and avoidance ratings. Finally, we combined these results on relative burn preference with regional burn rates to map local fire risks across Canada. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Detecting Local Drivers of Fire Cycle Heterogeneity in Boreal Forests: A Scale Issue
Forests 2016, 7(7), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7070139
Received: 30 May 2016 / Revised: 24 June 2016 / Accepted: 29 June 2016 / Published: 12 July 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (4168 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Severe crown fires are determining disturbances for the composition and structure of boreal forests in North America. Fire cycle (FC) associations with continental climate gradients are well known, but smaller scale controls remain poorly documented. Using a time since fire map (time scale [...] Read more.
Severe crown fires are determining disturbances for the composition and structure of boreal forests in North America. Fire cycle (FC) associations with continental climate gradients are well known, but smaller scale controls remain poorly documented. Using a time since fire map (time scale of 300 years), the study aims to assess the relative contributions of local and regional controls on FC and to describe the relationship between FC heterogeneity and vegetation patterns. The study area, located in boreal eastern North America, was partitioned into watersheds according to five scales going from local (3 km2) to landscape (2800 km2) scales. Using survival analysis, we observed that dry surficial deposits and hydrography density better predict FC when measured at the local scale, while terrain complexity and slope position perform better when measured at the middle and landscape scales. The most parsimonious model was selected according to the Akaike information criterion to predict FC throughout the study area. We detected two FC zones, one short (159 years) and one long (303 years), with specific age structures and tree compositions. We argue that the local heterogeneity of the fire regime contributes to ecosystem diversity and must be considered in ecosystem management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Quantifying Fire Cycle from Dendroecological Records Using Survival Analyses
Forests 2016, 7(7), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7070131
Received: 12 May 2016 / Accepted: 16 June 2016 / Published: 28 June 2016
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Abstract
Quantifying fire regimes in the boreal forest ecosystem is crucial for understanding the past and present dynamics, as well as for predicting its future dynamics. Survival analyses have often been used to estimate the fire cycle in eastern Canada because they make it [...] Read more.
Quantifying fire regimes in the boreal forest ecosystem is crucial for understanding the past and present dynamics, as well as for predicting its future dynamics. Survival analyses have often been used to estimate the fire cycle in eastern Canada because they make it possible to take into account the censored information that is made prevalent by the typically long fire return intervals and the limited scope of the dendroecological methods that are used to quantify them. Here, we assess how the true length of the fire cycle, the short-term temporal variations in fire activity, and the sampling effort affect the accuracy and precision of estimates obtained from two types of parametric survival models, the Weibull and the exponential models, and one non-parametric model obtained with the Cox regression. Then, we apply those results in a case area located in eastern Canada. Our simulation experiment confirms some documented concerns regarding the detrimental effects of temporal variations in fire activity on parametric estimation of the fire cycle. Cox regressions appear to provide the most accurate and robust estimator, being by far the least affected by temporal variations in fire activity. The Cox-based estimate of the fire cycle for the last 300 years in the case study area is 229 years (CI95: 162–407), compared with the likely overestimated 319 years obtained with the commonly used exponential model. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Wildfires Dynamics in Siberian Larch Forests
Forests 2016, 7(6), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7060125
Received: 29 February 2016 / Revised: 5 June 2016 / Accepted: 8 June 2016 / Published: 17 June 2016
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (2432 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wildfire number and burned area temporal dynamics within all of Siberia and along a south-north transect in central Siberia (45°–73° N) were studied based on NOAA/AVHRR (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) and Terra/MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data [...] Read more.
Wildfire number and burned area temporal dynamics within all of Siberia and along a south-north transect in central Siberia (45°–73° N) were studied based on NOAA/AVHRR (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) and Terra/MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data and field measurements for the period 1996–2015. In addition, fire return interval (FRI) along the south-north transect was analyzed. Both the number of forest fires and the size of the burned area increased during recent decades (p < 0.05). Significant correlations were found between forest fires, burned areas and air temperature (r = 0.5) and drought index (The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, SPEI) (r = −0.43). Within larch stands along the transect, wildfire frequency was strongly correlated with incoming solar radiation (r = 0.91). Fire danger period length decreased linearly from south to north along the transect. Fire return interval increased from 80 years at 62° N to 200 years at the Arctic Circle (66°33’ N), and to about 300 years near the northern limit of closed forest stands (about 71°+ N). That increase was negatively correlated with incoming solar radiation (r = −0.95). Full article
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Open AccessArticle Rating a Wildfire Mitigation Strategy with an Insurance Premium: A Boreal Forest Case Study
Forests 2016, 7(5), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7050107
Received: 10 March 2016 / Revised: 28 April 2016 / Accepted: 10 May 2016 / Published: 13 May 2016
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Abstract
Risk analysis entails the systematic use of historical information to determine the frequency, magnitude and effects of unexpected events. Wildfire in boreal North America is a key driver of forest dynamics and may cause very significant economic losses. An actuarial approach to risk [...] Read more.
Risk analysis entails the systematic use of historical information to determine the frequency, magnitude and effects of unexpected events. Wildfire in boreal North America is a key driver of forest dynamics and may cause very significant economic losses. An actuarial approach to risk analysis based on cumulative probability distributions was developed to reduce the adverse effects of wildfire. To this effect, we developed spatially explicit landscape models to simulate the interactions between harvest, fire and forest succession over time in a boreal forest of eastern Canada. We estimated the amount of reduction of timber harvest necessary to build a buffer stock of sufficient size to cover fire losses and compared it to an insurance premium estimated in units of timber volume from the probability of occurrence and the amount of damage. Overall, the timber harvest reduction we applied was much more costly than the insurance premium even with a zero interest rate. This is due to the fact that the insurance premium is directly related to risk while the timber harvest reduction is not and, as a consequence, is much less efficient. These results, especially the comparison with a standard indicator such as an insurance premium, have useful implications at the time of choosing a mitigation strategy to protect timber supplies against risk without overly diminishing the provision of services from the forest. They are also promoting the use of insurance against disastrous events in forest management planning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Regional Instability in the Abundance of Open Stands in the Boreal Forest of Eastern Canada
Forests 2016, 7(5), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7050103
Received: 15 March 2016 / Revised: 2 May 2016 / Accepted: 5 May 2016 / Published: 12 May 2016
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Abstract
Fires are a key disturbance of boreal forests. In fact, they are the main source of renewal and evolution for forest stands. The variability of fire through space and time results in a diversified forest mosaic, altering their species composition, structure and productivity. [...] Read more.
Fires are a key disturbance of boreal forests. In fact, they are the main source of renewal and evolution for forest stands. The variability of fire through space and time results in a diversified forest mosaic, altering their species composition, structure and productivity. A resilient forest is assumed to be in a state of dynamic equilibrium with the fire regime, so that the composition, age structure and succession stages of forests should be consistent with the fire regime. Dense spruce-moss stands tend, however, to diminish in favour of more open stands similar to spruce-lichen stands when subjected to more frequent and recurring disturbances. This study therefore focused on the effects of spatial and temporal variations in burn rates on the proportion of open stands over a large geographic area (175,000 km2) covered by black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton, Sterns, Poggenb.). The study area was divided into 10 different zones according to burn rates, as measured using fire-related data collected between 1940 and 2006. To test if the abundance of open stands was unstable over time and not in equilibrium with the current fire regime, forest succession was simulated using a landscape dynamics model that showed that the abundance of open stands should increase progressively over time in zones where the average burn rate is high. The proportion of open stands generated during a specific historical period is correlated with the burn rate observed during the same period. Rising annual burn rates over the past two decades have thereby resulted in an immediate increase in the proportion of open stands. There is therefore a difference between the current proportion of open stands and the one expected if vegetation was in equilibrium with the disturbance regime, reflecting an instability that may significantly impact the way forest resources are managed. It is apparent from this study that forestry planning should consider the risks associated with the temporal variability of fire regimes on the forest ecosystem, as the resulting changes can have a significant impact on biodiversity and allowable cut estimates. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Burn Severity Dominates Understory Plant Community Response to Fire in Xeric Jack Pine Forests
Forests 2016, 7(4), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7040083
Received: 29 February 2016 / Revised: 24 March 2016 / Accepted: 9 April 2016 / Published: 15 April 2016
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Abstract
Fire is the most common disturbance in northern boreal forests, and large fires are often associated with highly variable burn severities across the burnt area. We studied the understory plant community response to a range of burn severities and pre-fire stand age four [...] Read more.
Fire is the most common disturbance in northern boreal forests, and large fires are often associated with highly variable burn severities across the burnt area. We studied the understory plant community response to a range of burn severities and pre-fire stand age four growing seasons after the 2011 Richardson Fire in xeric jack pine forests of northern Alberta, Canada. Burn severity had the greatest impact on post-fire plant communities, while pre-fire stand age did not have a significant impact. Total plant species richness and cover decreased with disturbance severity, such that the greatest richness was in low severity burns (average 28 species per 1-m2 quadrat) and plant cover was lowest in the high severity burns (average 16%). However, the response of individual plant groups differed. Lichens and bryophytes were most common in low severity burns and were effectively eliminated from the regenerating plant community at higher burn severities. In contrast, graminoid cover and richness were positively related to burn severity, while forbs did not respond significantly to burn severity, but were impacted by changes in soil chemistry with increased cover at pH >4.9. Our results indicate the importance of non-vascular plants to the overall plant community in this harsh environment and that the plant community is environmentally limited rather than recruitment or competition limited, as is often the case in more mesic forest types. If fire frequency and severity increase as predicted, we may see a shift in plant communities from stress-tolerant species, such as lichens and ericaceous shrubs, to more colonizing species, such as certain graminoids. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Climate Change Refugia, Fire Ecology and Management
Forests 2016, 7(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7040077
Received: 29 January 2016 / Revised: 18 March 2016 / Accepted: 23 March 2016 / Published: 30 March 2016
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Abstract
Early climate change ideas warned of widespread species extinctions. As scientists have probed more deeply into species responses, a more nuanced perspective emerged indicating that some species may persist in microrefugia (refugia), including in mountainous terrain. Refugia are habitats that buffer climate changes [...] Read more.
Early climate change ideas warned of widespread species extinctions. As scientists have probed more deeply into species responses, a more nuanced perspective emerged indicating that some species may persist in microrefugia (refugia), including in mountainous terrain. Refugia are habitats that buffer climate changes and allow species to persist in—and to potentially expand under—changing environmental conditions. While climate and species interactions in refugia have been noted as sources of uncertainty, land management practices and disturbances, such as wildland fire, should also be considered when assessing any given refugium. Our landscape scale study suggests that cold-air pools, an important type of small-scale refugia, have unique fire occurrence, frequency, and severity patterns in frequent-fire mixed conifer forests of California’s Sierra Nevada: cold-air pool refugia have less fire and if it occurs, it is lower severity. Therefore, individuals and small populations are less likely to be extirpated by fire. Active management, such as restoration and fuels treatments for climate change adaptation, may be required to maintain these distinctive and potentially important refugia. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fuel Classes in Conifer Forests of Southwest Sichuan, China, and Their Implications for Fire Susceptibility
Forests 2016, 7(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7030052
Received: 21 October 2015 / Revised: 22 February 2016 / Accepted: 23 February 2016 / Published: 7 March 2016
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Abstract
The fuel characteristics that influence the initiation and spread of wildfires were measured in Keteleeria fortune forest (FT1), Pinus yunnanensis forest (FT2), P. yunnanensis and Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco mixed forest (FT3), P. yunnanensis Franch and K. fortunei (Murr.) Carr mixed forest (FT4), [...] Read more.
The fuel characteristics that influence the initiation and spread of wildfires were measured in Keteleeria fortune forest (FT1), Pinus yunnanensis forest (FT2), P. yunnanensis and Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco mixed forest (FT3), P. yunnanensis Franch and K. fortunei (Murr.) Carr mixed forest (FT4), Tsuga chinensis forest (FT5), and P. orientalis forest (FT6) in southwest Sichuan Province, China. We compared vertical distributions of four fuel classes (active fuel, fine fuel, medium fuel and thick fuel) in the same vertical strata and in different spatial layers, and analyzed the fire potential (surface fire, passive and active crown fires) of the six forest types (FT). We then classified the six forest types into different groups depending on their wildfire potential. By using the pattern of forest wildfire types that burnt the most number of forests, we identified four fire susceptibility groups. The first two groups had the lowest susceptibility of active crown fires but they differed in the proportion of surface and passive crown fires. The third group was positioned in the middle between types with low and extremely high fire susceptibility; while the fourth group had the highest susceptibility of active crown fires. The results of this study will not only contribute to the prediction of fire behavior, but also will be invaluable for use in forestry management. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Spatiotemporal Variability of Wildland Fuels in US Northern Rocky Mountain Forests
Forests 2016, 7(7), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7070129
Received: 3 May 2016 / Revised: 1 June 2016 / Accepted: 12 June 2016 / Published: 27 June 2016
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Abstract
Fire regimes are ultimately controlled by wildland fuel dynamics over space and time; spatial distributions of fuel influence the size, spread, and intensity of individual fires, while the temporal distribution of fuel deposition influences fire’s frequency and controls fire size. These “shifting fuel [...] Read more.
Fire regimes are ultimately controlled by wildland fuel dynamics over space and time; spatial distributions of fuel influence the size, spread, and intensity of individual fires, while the temporal distribution of fuel deposition influences fire’s frequency and controls fire size. These “shifting fuel mosaics” are both a cause and a consequence of fire regimes. This paper synthesizes results from two major fuel dynamics studies that described the spatial and temporal variability of canopy and surface wildland fuel characteristics found in US northern Rocky Mountain forests. Eight major surface fuel components—four downed dead woody fuel size classes (1, 10, 100, 1000 h), duff, litter, shrub, and herb—and three canopy fuel characteristics—loading, bulk density and cover—were studied. Properties of these fuel types were sampled on nested plots located within sampling grids to describe their variability across spatiotemporal scales. Important findings were that fuel component loadings were highly variable (two to three times the mean), and this variability increased with the size of fuel particles. The spatial variability of loadings also varied by spatial scale with fine fuels (duff, litter, 1 h, 10 h) varying at scales of 1 to 5 m; coarse fuels at 10 to 150 m, and canopy fuels at 100 to 600 m. Fine fuels are more uniformly distributed over both time and space and decayed quickly, while large fuels are rare on the landscape but have a high residence time. Full article
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Open AccessReview Disturbance Agents and Their Associated Effects on the Health of Interior Douglas-Fir Forests in the Central Rocky Mountains
Forests 2016, 7(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/f7040080
Received: 18 January 2016 / Revised: 23 March 2016 / Accepted: 30 March 2016 / Published: 6 April 2016
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Abstract
Interior Douglas-fir is a prevalent forest type throughout the central Rocky Mountains. Past management actions, specifically fire suppression, have led to an expansion of this forest type. Although Douglas-fir forests cover a broad geographic range, few studies have described the interactive effects of [...] Read more.
Interior Douglas-fir is a prevalent forest type throughout the central Rocky Mountains. Past management actions, specifically fire suppression, have led to an expansion of this forest type. Although Douglas-fir forests cover a broad geographic range, few studies have described the interactive effects of various disturbance agents on forest health conditions. In this paper, we review pertinent literature describing the roles, linkages, and mechanisms by which disturbances, including insect outbreaks, pathogens, fire, and other abiotic factors, affect the development, structure, and distribution of interior montane forests primarily comprised of Douglas-fir. We also discuss how these effects may influence important resource values such as water, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, timber, and recreation. Finally, we identify gaps where further research may increase our understanding of these disturbance agents, their interacting roles, and how they influence long-term forest health. Full article
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