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A new forest fire paradigm: The need for high-severity fires

Bond, Monica L.; Siegel, Rodney B.; Hutto, Richard L.; Saab, Victoria A.; Shunk, Stephen A. 2012. A new forest fire paradigm: The need for high-severity fires. The Wildlife Professional. Winter 2012: 46-49.

During the 2012 fire season from June through August, wildfires in the drought-stricken western and central United States burned more than 3.6 million acres of forest and shrubland. In the hot, dry, windy conditions seen that season, a single spark can start an understory fire that ascends into the canopies of overstory trees and results in a 'mega-fire' that escapes control efforts, threatens human life and property, and chars wide swaths of forest. But in the aftermath, a host of pyrophilic organisms such as fire morel mushrooms (Morchella elata), Bicknell's geraniums (Geranium bicknellii), jewel beetles (Melanophila acuminate), and black-backed woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus) exploit these burned areas for critical habitat elements that are abundant only after such large-scale disturbances. These species are not merely opportunistic. Their distribution is often restricted to severely burned forest conditions.

Keywords: wildfires, pyrophilic organisms

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: A new forest fire paradigm: The need for high-severity fires
Electronic Publish Date: October 23, 2013
Last Update:
October 23, 2013

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