Fire regimes of hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada
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).
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 ). It includes information on:
- Physical setting and geographic distribution
- Ecological setting
- Holocene history
- Cultural-socioeconomic setting
- Reference conditions
- Descriptions of natural range of variation including:
- plant community composition (geographic distribution of major hardwood species, successional changes, diversity)
- stand structure (age class; cover, density, and basal area; patch sizes; distribution of fuel loads)
- function (climate; disturbances including fire, grazing, insects, disease, and invasive species; soils and nutrient cycling)
- Deviations from natural variation and future trends
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 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.
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 .
|Table 1—Modeled fire intervals and severities for hardwood communities in the Sierra Nevada .
Fire severityb (% of fires)
Number of Biophysical Settings (BpSs) in each fire regime group
|Upland hardwood communities
|Riparian hardwood communities
| aMean historical
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 . 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.
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]. 
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. 
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]. 
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]. 
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