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Fire regimes of hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada


Citation:
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory. 2019. Fire regimes of hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada: Information from Information from the Pacific Southwest Research Station and LANDFIRE. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/fire_regimes/Sierra_Nevada_hardwoods/all.html [].

Information from: PACIFIC SOUTHWEST RESEARCH STATION
The Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides a review and synthesis of the historical range of variability in hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada (Merriam 2016 [4]). It includes information on:

The literature review of fire regimes occurs in the in the "Natural Range of Variation Function" section of this publication.

A blue oak woodland in Calaveras County. Note fire-scarred tree in center and powerline greenstrip in background. Forest Service image by Janet Fryer. Click on the picture for a larger image.
A California black oak woodland in Kern County. Image © 2014 by Neal Kramer, used with permission. Click on the picture for a larger image.

LANDFIRE MODELING
LANDFIRE modeled succession and fire frequency of Biophysical Settings (BpSs). Table 1 summarizes LANDFIRE data on the BpSs for hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada. Figure 1 shows where they occur. Table A1 lists the BpSs and the results of LANDFIRE succession modeling for each BpS. Overall, the range of fire intervals was wide (7-75 years); however, ranges were relatively narrow within fire regime groups. For the BpSs in fire regime group I (upland hardwood communities), fire intervals ranged from 7 to 17 years. For the BpSs in fire regime group III (riparian hardwood communities), fire intervals ranged from 50 to 75 years [3].

Table 1—Modeled fire intervals and severities for hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada [3].
Fire intervala
Fire severityb (% of fires)
Number of Biophysical Settings (BpSs) in each fire regime group
  Replacement Mixed Low I II III IV V NAc
Upland hardwood communities
7-17 years 2-12 2-39 50-91 11 0 0 0 0 0
Riparian hardwood communities
50-75 years 17-56 44-83 0 2          
aMean historical fire interval derived from LANDFIRE succession modeling (labeled "MFRI" in LANDFIRE).
bPercentage of fires in 3 fire severity classes, derived from LANDFIRE succession modeling. Replacement-severity fires cause >75% kill or top-kill of the upper canopy layer; mixed-severity fires cause 26%-75%; low-severity fires cause <26% [1,2].
cNA (not applicable) refers to BpS models that did not include fire in simulations.

Figure 1—Distribution of hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada based on the LANDFIRE Biophysical Settings (BpS) data layer [3]. LANDFIRE did not map BpS 0511180 due to infrequent occurrence. Click on the map for a larger image.

For information on California hardwood communities outside of the Sierra Nevada, see the Fire Regime Reports on California coastal and valley hardwoods and mediterranean mixed-evergreen communities. See the FEIS Fire Regime Synthesis on montane riparian communities of California and southwestern Oregon for detailed information on fire regimes in hardwood and conifer riparian communities.

Table 2—Species dominants of hardwood communities covered by the Pacific Southwest Research Station's review [4] or by LANDFIRE models [3]. Links go to FEIS Species Reviews.
Common name Scientific name
blue oak (oak woodlands) Quercus douglasii
California bay (mixed-evergreen forest) Umbellularia californica
canyon live oak (oak woodlands) Quercus chrysolepis
California black oak (oak woodlands, mixed-conifer forest) Quercus kelloggii
interior live oak (oak woodlands) Quercus wislizeni
Oregon white oak (oak woodlands) Quercus garryana
Pacific madrone (mixed-evergreen forest) Arbutus menziesii
tanoak (mixed-evergreen forest) Notholithocarpus densiflorus

References:


1. Barrett, S.; Havlina, D.; Jones, J.; Hann, W.; Frame, C.; Hamilton, D.; Schon, K.; Demeo, T.; Hutter, L.; Menakis, J. 2010. Interagency fire regime condition class guidebook (FRCC), [Online], (Version 3.0). In: Interagency fire regime condition class website. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; U.S. Department of the Interior; The Nature Conservancy (Producers). Available: https://www.frames.gov/documents/frcc/documents/FRCC+Guidebook_2008.10.30.pdf [2019, March 20]. [85876]

2. LANDFIRE Rapid Assessment. 2005. Reference condition modeling manual (Version 2.1). Cooperative Agreement 04-CA-11132543-189. Boulder, CO: The Nature Conservancy; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; U.S. Department of the Interior. 72 p. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [66741]

3. LANDFIRE. 2008. CONUS refresh (LANDFIRE 1.1.0). Biophysical settings layer. In: LANDFIRE data distribution site, [Online]. In: LANDFIRE. U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey (Producer). Available: https://landfire.cr.usgs.gov/viewer/ [2015, October 7]. [89416]

4. Merriam, Kyle. 2016. Natural range of variation in hardwood vegetation in the Sierra Nevada, California over the Holocene epoch, [Online]. In: Pacific Region, Ecology program documents, reports and publications, Natural range of variation of Sierra Nevada habitats. Vallejo, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/plants-animals/?cid=stelprdb5434436 [2016, October 31]. 49 p. [+ tables & figures]. [91133]
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