Volume 10 Issue 2  August 2014
Letter From the Editor
Photo by Ed Lussier

By Jim Agee, Managing Editor

The newest issue of Fire Ecology, Issue 10(2), August 2014, in now published on the Journal's new website.  This site has attractive new features that allow readers to more easily scan the table of contents and various articles. Other articles by the same authors are easily located from the abstract pages.  The new website is also accessible from its traditional location on the AFE website.

Issue 10(2) begins with the reprint of a classic article by Omer Stewart concerning aboriginal use of fire. Introduced by Kat Anderson, Stewart's 1963 Tall Timbers presentation was a turning point in understanding the use of fire by indigenous peoples.

Our research articles begin with one by Perrakis and others on modeling wildfire spread in recent mountain pine beetle killed lodgepole pine stands in western Canada. They document rate of spread in experimental fires and wildfires, and find that recent beetle-killed stands have faster rates of spread and more crown fire than predicted. From forest landscapes to semi-arid grasslands of North America, Augustine and others use an information theoretic approach to develop models that predict peak temperatures and heat dosages in these grasslands as a function of weather variables and heat load. These findings are useful in reducing abundance of undesirable plant species and providing habitat for native grassland birds. In the Grand Canyon of the southwestern US, Hoff and others evaluate the severity of fires that burn across previously burned landscapes. The fire severity patch distribution of a first fire had little influences on the fire severity of a subsequent fire. Second entry patch severity was distributed on top of the first entry severity in a close to random distribution. In the Great Basin and Upper Colorado River Basin, Arnold and others identify antecedent patterns of climate conditions prior to wildfire occurrence over a 25-year period, and they identify five unique climate patterns related to fire occurrence. Wetter antecedent conditions are related to more fire in usually fuel-limited areas, and drier antecedent conditions are related to more fire in areas where climate is usually a limiting factor. In central Arizona, Rhodes and others evaluate rangeland monitoring techniques for modeling herbaceous fuels and forage. Data collected from the Common Non-Forested Vegetation Sampling Protocol (CNVSP) met the needs for the Phytomass Growth Simulator (Phygrow) for standing herbaceous matter but surface dead fuels were poorly modeled.

In the forum section of the journal, Godwin and Ferrarese summarize results of a survey of student fire ecology groups who participate in wildland fire experiential education.  They evaluate barriers such as access to training, legal hurdles, and equipment costs, and suggest potential ways to overcome these barriers. We hope you enjoy Issue 10(2), and please check out the new journal website.

Finally, 2013 is the first year that Fire Ecology has been indexed in the Reuters ISI Web of Knowledge. Our impact factor is rated at 1.156. In the category "Ecology" we are ranked 104 out of 140 journals, so we are in the top two-thirds. In "Forestry" we are ranked 28th out of 64, so we're in the top half. So, although we have a ways to go, this is an excellent start for Fire Ecology. Consider  submitting an article for review in the near future.

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Classic Article

Barriers to Understanding the Influence of Use of Fire by Aborigines on Vegetation, Introduction by M. Kat Anderson

In March 1963, anthropologist Omer Stewart delivered a paper at the second annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference in Tallahassee, Florida, about the ecological significance of the use of fire by aboriginal peoples around the world. This paper, published later that year in a conference proceedings, is being reprinted here because, 50 years hence, it has become clear that it represents a turning point in our understanding of intentional burning by indigenous people and its effects on vegetation.

Research Articles

Modeling Wildfire Spread in Mountain Pine Beetle-Affected Forest Stands, British Columbia, Canada 

Characteristics of Burns Conducted under Modified Prescriptions to Mitigate Limited Fuels in a Semi-Arid Grassland

Authors: David J. Augustine, Justin D. Derner, and David P. Smith

In semi-arid grasslands of the North American Great Plains, fire has traditionally been viewed as having few management applications, and quantitative measurements of fire behavior in the low fuel loads characteristic of this region are lacking. More recently, land managers have recognized potential applications of prescribed fire to control undesirable plant species and to manage habitat for wildlife in this region. Working in the shortgrass steppe of northeastern Colorado over a 7-year period, we quantified peak temperatures, heating duration, and heat dosage produced near ground level during prescribed burns conducted under a wide range of fuel loads and weather conditions.

Changes in Severity Distribution after Subsequent Fires on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA 


Authors: Valentijn Hoff, Casey C. Teske, James P. Riddering, LLoyd P. Queen, Eric G. Gdula, and Windy A. Bunn

Understanding the distribution of fire severity patches across a landscape is of critical importance to managers and researchers. Of particular interest are those areas that burn multiple times. Understanding the complexity of these "multiple entry, mixed severity" patches is an important component of managing the landscape. We investigated the role that initial fire severity might play on subsequent fire severity (for a given re-burned area) to assess whether high severity patch distribution was impacted by initial burn conditions. 

Modeling Climate-Fire Connections within the Great Basin and Upper Colorado River Basin, Western United States
The specific temporal patterns of antecedent conditions associated with fire occurrence in the Great Basin and Upper Colorado River Basin are poorly understood. Using 25 years of combined fire and climate data, we identified unique antecedent patterns of climate conditions prior to fires in the Great Basin and Upper Colorado River Basin. Five distinct antecedent patterns of climate related to fire were found within the region; with these antecedent patterns we were able to construct models of fire danger. 
A Comparison of Rangeland Monitoring Techniques for Modeling Herbaceous Fuels and Forage in Central Arizona, USA
While fire and rangeland managers frequently have different land management roles and objectives, their data needs with regards to herbaceous biomass (fuel loads and forage) often overlap, and can be served with a single sampling protocol for both rangeland and fuels management. In this study, we examined how two herbaceous sampling methods compare in measuring species richness, ground cover, and standing herbaceous biomass for range and forestry management using the Phytomass Growth Simulator (Phygrow).

Forum: Issues, Management, Policy, and Opinions

Student Wildland Fire Groups: Common Challenges and Shared Solutions
Student fire groups, collegiate-level groups explicitly organized around topics related to wildland fire, are widespread across the country. Student fire groups are at times participants in wildland fire-oriented experiential education but are often limited by access to training, legal hurdles, and equipment costs. We assess these barriers and suggest practical ways to overcome them.