Volume 11 Issue 2  August 2015
Letter From the Editor
Photo by Bob Keane

By Jim Agee, Managing Editor

     We're pleased to announce that Fire Ecology 11(2) is now available for viewing on the journal website http://fireecologyjournal.org. The issue begins with another classic article, this one written by Robert R. Humphrey on the role of fire in semi-desert grasslands. As the introduction to the article by Mitchel McLaren notes, Humphrey's article, first published in the Journal of Range Management in 1953, provides a deeper understanding of the role of fire in the ecology of desert grasslands of the U.S. Southwest. The original research articles begin with Miller and Quayle's calibration and validation of immediate post-fire satellite-derived data to three severity metrics in the Sierra Nevada and northwestern California, USA. They modified calibrations for extended (1 yr) calibrations to be used for initial assessments using an adjustment factor to account for changes in ash cover. Plots <30 m from mapped polygon boundaries were less accurately classified than plots ≥30 m inside mapped polygons. High severity patches (≥75 % or ≥90 % basal area mortality) ≥30 m inside mapped polygons were correctly classified >92 % of the time. Morgan and others investigated vegetation response to burn severity, native grass seeding, and salvage logging in eastern Washington, USA. Rapid post-fire growth dominated by native herbs and shrubs suggests that this forest's vegetation and soils are highly resilient to disturbance. Very few non-native species were found, regardless of salvage logging and seeding. Overall, burn severity and post-fire seeding with native grasses were more influential than salvage logging on understory plant abundance one to six years after fire.  In the southern Sierra Nevada of California, USA, Meyer and others assessed the principles of effective fire management plans on federal lands. They describe the underlying framework of fire management plans, assess their consistency with guiding principles, and provide recommendations for development of future fire management plans. They recommend that future fire management plans be: (1) consistent and compatible, (2) collaborative, (3) clear and comprehensive, (4) spatially and temporally scalable, (5) informed by the best available science, and (6) flexible and adaptive. Perkins presents results of a study evaluating the effect of fire on whitebark pine seedling establishment, survival, and growth in western Montana, USA. Plots recently burned showed nearly three times greater seed germination and growth compared to unburned plots. Seedling growth was about 60 % greater in a recently burned site compared to an adjacent unburned site. Soil nitrate and soil-available phosphorus were greater in burned sites, but high nitrogen concentrations in the leaves of seedling s in the unburned plots indicated that nitrogen was not a limiting factor. Higher phosphorus, increased light availability, and earlier snowmelt after fire may be important factors in post-fire success of whitebark pine. Hubbert and others, in the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA, evaluated the effect of pile burning of three contrasting fuelbed types (large wood, mixed-diameter slash, and small diameter slash) on soil physical and chemical properties and resulting near-stream surface and sub-surface water chemistry. Post-fire soil water repellency was greatest for large wood piles, but increased for all pile types when soils were dry. Soil bulk density within the burn piles showed moderate increases, but water infiltration rates decreased more than four-fold after burning large-wood and mixed-diameter piles. Nitrate, ortho-phosphate, and sulfate concentrations were low and decreased downslope for the piles. Pile burning had a limited effect on downslope water quality despite changes in soil physicochemical properties. The impacts of fire on snowshoe hare population in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA, were studied by Cheng and others. Hare numbers were low throughout the park, and densities exceeding 0.5 hares per hectare (a commonly suggested threshold for supporting Canada lynx) occurred at only 7 % of sites. Although variable, hare densities were 10 to 20 times higher in a 1988 burn compared to lodgepole pine stands in other burn treatments. Canopy cover was positively associated with hare densities, and positively associated with understory cover up to 80 % cover, beyond which hare density declined. Hare and lynx distribution are likely to shift substantially in coming decades as the spatiotemporal patterns of fire, and regenerating forest, change across the park. 
     This year is the second year that Fire Ecology has been ranked relative to other journals. In the Reuters ISI Web of Knowledge (proprietary), our 2014 impact factor has increased 23 % over 2013. In the category "Ecology," we are ranked 62nd out of 140 journals, so we are in the top half (we were top two-thirds in 2013). In "Forestry," we are ranked 24th out of 64, so we're in the top half (little change from last year). In the Scimago (open access sponsored by Scopus) "Forestry" ranking, we remain in the top quartile, and in the top half of "Ecology" and "Environmental Science" journals. So, although we have a ways to go, this is an excellent start for Fire Ecology. Now that we have been added to the ranking lists, our submissions have been increasing. In the first half of 2015, we received double the number of manuscripts received across all of 2014. So we are on track, in 2015, to have four times the 2014 submissions. 
     We hope you enjoy Issue 11(2)!
New ~ Online Reader

on your computer, tablet or phone.

New! Article Indexing

You can now view a listing of articles 
About the Cover:  

A prescribed burn for whitebark pine restoration near Mink Peak, Lolo National Forest, in west-central Montana, USA.  Photo credit: Bob Keane
All of our Abstracts now in Spanish!

Click on the PDF link for the abstract in Spanish.
Upcoming Event: 

AFE's 6th International
Fire Ecology & Management Congress

Advancing Ecology in Fire Management: 
Knowledge Transfer Through Workshops, Presentations and Meetings 

San Antonio, Texas
Nov.16-20, 2015

Poster Abstract

TREE grant 

Read about our Photo Contest, Fire Circles, Sponsorship, Award Nominations, Gender Survey and MORE at our  Event Website  

Let's stay in touch!
Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Contact Us:

afe logo small transparent circle

Classic Article

The Desert Grassland, Past and Present, with an Introduction by Mitchel P. McClaran

Author:  Robert R. Humphrey

Most of the grassland areas below about 4,000 feet in southwestern North America are commonly referred to as the desert grassland (Shantz and Zon 1924) or, more occasionally, as the desert plains (Weaver and Clements 1929).  This association extends discontinuously from southwestern Texas, through southern New Mexico, into southeastern Arizona and south into Mexico.

Research Articles

Calibration and Validation of Immediate Post-Fire Satellite-Derived Data to Three Severity Metrics

Authors:  Jay D. Miller and  Brad Quayle

Since 2007, the USDA Forest Service's Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC) has been producing fire severity data within the first 30 to 45 days after wildfire containment (i.e., initial assessments [IA]), for wildfires that occur on USDA Forest Service managed lands, to support post-fire management actions. Satellite image-derived map products are produced using calibrations of the relativized differenced normalized burn ratio (RdNBR) to the Composite Burn Index (CBI), percent change in tree basal area (BA), and percent change in canopy cover (CC).
Vegetation Response to Burn Severity, Native Grass Seeding, and Salvage Logging

As the size and extent of wildfires has increased in recent decades, so has the cost and extent of post-fire management, including seeding and salvage logging.  However, we know little about how burn severity, salvage logging, and post-fire seeding interact to influence vegetation recovery long-term.  We sampled understory plant species richness, diversity, and canopy cover one to six years post fire (2006 to 2009, and 2011) on 72 permanent plots selected in a stratified random sample to define post-fire vegetation response to burn severity, post-fire seeding with native grasses, and salvage logging on the 2005 School Fire in eastern Washington.
Principles of Effective USA Federal Fire Management Plans

Federal fire management plans are essential implementation guides for the management of wildland fire on federal lands.  Recent changes in federal fire policy implementation guidance and fire science information suggest the need for substantial changes in federal fire management plans of the United States.  Federal land management agencies are also undergoing land management planning efforts that will initiate revision of fire management plans across the country.
Fire Enhances Whitebark Pine Seedling Establishment, Survival, and Growth

Author:  Judy L. Perkins

Periodic fire is thought to improve whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) regeneration by reducing competition and creating openings, but the mechanisms by which fire affects seedling establishment are poorly understood.  I compared seedling vegetation production in adjacent sites, one last burned in 1880 and the other in 1988, to test the hypothesis that recent fire increases whitebark pine seedling growth.  I experimentally tested effects of fire on seedling recruitment and growth by planting seeds in prescribed burned and nearby unburned sites.  Experimental results showed nearly three times greater seed germination and seedling survival in recently prescribed burn plots.
Pile Burning Effects on Soil Water Repellency, Infiltration, and Downslope Water Chemistry in the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA

Thinning of conifers followed by pile burning has become a popular treatment to reduce fuel loads in the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA.  However, concern has been voiced about burning within or near riparian areas because of the potential effect on nutrient release and, ultimately, lake water quality.  Our objective was to quantify the effects of pile burning on soil physical and chemical properties and resulting near-stream surface and subsurface water chemistry.  Twenty-seven hand-built piles of three contrasting fuelbed types (large wood, mixed-diameter slash, small-diameter slash) were burned.
Impacts of Fire on Snowshoe Hares in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Forest fires fundamentally shape the habitats available for wildlife.  Current predictions for fire under a warming climate suggest larger and more severe fires may occur, thus challenging scientists and managers to understand and predict impacts of fire on focal species, especially species of management concern.  Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus Erxleben) are a common and important prey animal in boreal forests and are the primary prey for the US federally threatened Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis Kerr), so understanding hare dynamics in post-fire landscapes is critical for managing lynx.