Science Team 3 (Disturbance Processes)
Team 3 focuses on the Redding research work unit’s problem 3: We need better understanding of interactions of fire, climate, and other disturbance processes and their influences (singly and together) on sustainability of forest ecosystems.
Recurring fires and varying climate historically played a key role in influencing the species composition, stand structures, and landscape mosaics of most forest ecosystems in western North America. In Mediterranean climates, fires and variation in climate itself are key agents of change that may or may not match societal interests. These agents, singly and in concert, alter forests over a wide range of scales by damaging or killing some plants, stimulating regeneration and growth of other plants, and setting the stage for succession. In addition, fire affects many processes in the soil and forest floor by consuming organic matter and by inducing thermal and chemical changes. Fire influences carbon storage in complex ways from rapid release of stored carbon as gases in smoke to promoting long-term storage of carbon as inert charcoal incorporated in soil and sediments.
The alteration of forests due to fire suppression, livestock grazing, and timber harvest over the last century has led to changes in carbon cycle pathways, fuel conditions, and stand structures that have increased fire hazards and threaten forest sustainability in many areas. The basic parameters of fire regimes that shaped forested ecosystems, such as fire frequency, intensity, severity, size, and spatial pattern remain poorly understood. Since fire is a complex process with varied effects across space and time, developing more effective management methods will require integrating research from the spatial scale of individual plants to landscape mosaics and from intra-annual to millennial temporal scales.
Our research goal is to provide managers with flexible fuel management guidelines to protect forest health and enhance sustainability both under existing conditions and in the event of climate change.
Approach: Relationships of climate, past fires, and forest dynamics are developed from tree rings, lake sediments, and written historical records. Fuel treatment effectiveness and fire effects on ecosystem components are studied through carefully designed experiments that compare a suite of treatment options.
Celeste Abbott, Biologist
Glen Everest, Biological Science Technician
Neil Flagg, IT Specialist (Software Engineering)
Rose Leonard, Biologist
Fabian Uzoh, Mathematical Statistician
Blacks Mountain Ecological Research Project
Little Horse Peak (Goosenest AMA) Research Project
Fire & Fire Surrogates Study
Masticated Fuels: Fire Behavior and Effects