SFE Webinar: How important is it to mimic natural fire regimes in the SE Coastal Plain?
Thursday, February 9, 2017 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (EST)
How Important is it to Mimic Natural Fire Regimes in the Southeastern Coastal Plain?
A free one hour webinar from the Southern Fire Exchange
Thursday, February 9, 2017 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Reed Noss, Ph.D. Provost's Distinguished Research Professor, University of Central Florida
Webinar Presentation Abstract
The southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain is one of the most fire-prone regions of the world. Paleoecological evidence suggests that fire has been important in this region for tens of millions of years. Many species and ecosystems here depend on frequent fire for their existence, and most species in fire-prone ecosystems possess fire-adaptive strategies and traits. However, fire-adapted species are not adapted to fire per se, but rather to particular fire regimes. Components of a fire regime include frequency, seasonality, intensity/severity, patch size, heterogeneity, and other variables. If any of these components is altered beyond the range of variability experienced by species during their evolutionary histories, probabilities of extinction may increase. Some components of fire regimes are more commonly mimicked by fire managers than other components. For example, fire managers generally agree about the importance of frequency in controlled burning, whereas the question of the appropriate season(s) to burn is controversial. Review the literature on the effects of fire regimes on species and communities in the southeastern Coastal Plain has shown that fire season may be more important than generally thought. Dominant plant species of fire-prone ecosystems in this region experience greater fitness when burned during the natural lightning fire season (usually late April through June) than in other seasons. Little attempt has been made to analyze other components of natural (lightning) fire regimes, such as patch size or within-patch heterogeneity, or to replicate those components in managed fire regimes. Official policies call for immediate suppression of all lightning fires, so there is little opportunity to learn from them. Although practical considerations often dictate controlled burns that differ substantially from lightning fires, a precautionary approach would attempt to mimic the evolutionarily relevant fire regime whenever feasible.
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The Southern Fire Exchange (SFE) is a regional program for fire science delivery in the Southeast, funded by the Joint Fire Science Program in agreement with the United States Forest Service, Southern Research Station.