Chapter

Fire as an Ecological Process

Neil G. Sugihara, Jan W. Van Wagtendonk and Joann Fites-Kaufman

in Fire in California's Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246058
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932272 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520246058.003.0004
Fire as an Ecological Process

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This chapter investigates fire as a dynamic ecosystem process by first investigating fire in the context of general ecological theory, then discussing the concept of fire regimes, and finally by developing and applying a new framework for classifying fire regimes that better allows for the understanding of the patterns of fire as processes within ecosystems. Moreover, the chapter covers the succession theory and then proceeds through ecosystem, disturbance, and hierarchical theory. Next, it greatly expands on Agee’s (1993) treatment of conceptual distributions to include seven fire regime attributes, namely seasonality, fire return interval, fire size, spatial complexity, fireline intensity, fire severity, and fire type. Although humans have altered fire regimes throughout California for thousands of years, the pace of fire regime change has accelerated over the past 200 years. Recent and current management strategies have imposed directional changes on the pattern of fires in many California ecosystems.

Keywords: fire; dynamic ecosystem; succession theory; hierarchical theory; California; seasonality; fire return interval; fire size; spatial complexity; fireline intensity

Chapter.  11332 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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