Volume 13 Issue 2   August 2017
Letter from the Editor 
by Bob Keane, Managing Editor

The August 2017 issue of Fire Ecology⎯Issue 13(2)⎯is now available on the journal website. We invite you to read the exciting research articles in this new issue and we hope you find them interesting.

This issue offers a diverse set of nine fascinating papers in many fields of fire ecology from all across the globe. There are two short communication articles: one that describes tallgrass prairie vegetation response to seasonal prescribed fires, and one that describes the amount of black carbon on coarse woody debris in mixed conifer forests. We also have an opinion piece on the role of mixed severity fire in establishing ecosystem integrity in the Sierra Nevada of California, USA. There is an interesting synthesis meta-analysis paper on fungal species response. Our research articles include a paper that used MODIS imagery to identify possible control sites to establish post-fire ecological studies, while another paper looked at human and climate influences on high-elevation fire regimes in Peru. There is another remarkable study that developed new and more robust empirical models that predict the three-year post-fire mortality of 12 western North American conifer tree species, and an exploratory study that found climate-fire relationships for interior Pacific Northwest forests. And last, there is a very timely paper on the vegetation responses to shrubland fire hazard reduction treatments in California's northern chaparral.

Again, we invite you to read and enjoy these timely articles, and to please send them to your friends. We thank the Associate Editors, anonymous reviewers, webmaster Brett Cole, and copy editor Laurie Burk for all the hard work involved in delivering a high-quality scientific journal.
Photo Credit: John All

About the Cover:
A burn (left of center of photo) in the Llanganuco Valley of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, with the Huandoy mountain group in the background.  The fire burned in 2012 and the climbing trail that bisects the image acted as a fire break and protected the Polylepis trees immediately uphill.  The photo was taken from the opposite side of the valley in 2013 and, as of 2016, the burn had not yet recovered to 100% of pre-fire biomass

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Author Index Online
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Click on the PDF link for the abstract in Spanish.
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Research Articles

Selecting Control Sites for Post-Fire Ecological Studies Using Biological Criteria and MODIS Time Series Data
Authors: Marcos A. Landi , Carlos Di Bella , Silvia Ojeda , Paola Salvatierra , Juan P. Argañaraz , and Laura M. Bellis

Wildland fires play a key role in the functioning and structure of vegetation.  The availability of sensors aboard satellites, such as Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), makes possible the construction of a time series of vegetation indices (VI) and the monitoring of post-fire vegetation recovery.  One of the techniques used to monitor post-fire vegetation is the comparison of a burned site with an adjacent unburned control site.  However, to date, there is no objective method available for selecting these unburned control sites.

Historical Fire-Climate Relationships in Contrasting Interior Pacific Northwest Forest Types
Authors: James D. Johnston , John D. Bailey , Christopher J. Dunn , and
Amanda A. Lindsay

Describing the climate influences on historical wildland fire will aid managers in planning for future change.  This study uses existing historical climate reconstructions and a new fire history from the southern Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon, USA, to: 1) characterize historical fire-climate relationships, and 2) determine if climatic influences on fire differed among dry sites dominated by ponderosa pine ( Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws) and more productive sites with significant older fire intolerant grand fir ( Abies grandis [Dougl.] Lindl.) structure.

Fire Reduces Fungal Species Richness and
In Situ Mycorrhizal Colonization: A Meta-Analysis
Authors: Nicholas C. Dove and Stephen C. Hart

Soil fungal communities perform many functions that help plants meet their nutritional demands.  However, overall trends for fungal response to fire, which can be especially critical in a post-fire context, have been difficult to elucidate.  We used meta-analytical techniques to investigate fungal response to fire across studies, ecosystems, and fire types.  Change in fungal species richness and mycorrhizal colonization were used as the effect size metrics in random effects models.

Predicting Post-Fire Tree Mortality for 12 Western US Conifers Using the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM)

Accurate prediction of fire-caused tree mortality is critical for making sound land management decisions such as developing burning prescriptions and post-fire management guidelines.  To improve efforts to predict post-fire tree mortality, we developed 3-year post-fire mortality models for 12 Western conifer species-white fir ( Abies concolor [Gord. & Glend.] Lindl. ex Hildebr.), red fir ( Abies magnifica A. Murray bis), subalpine fir ( Abies lasiocarpa [Hook.] Nutt.), incense cedar ( Calocedrus decurrens [Torr.] Florin), western larch ( Larix occidentalis Nutt.), lodgepole pine ( Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon var. latifolia Engelm. ex S. Watson), whitebark pine ( Pinus albicaulis Engelm.), ponderosa pines ( Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson var. scopulorum Engelm and var. ponderosa C. Lawson), Jeffrey pine ( Pinus jeffreyi Balf.), sugar pine ( Pinus lambertiana Douglas), Engelmann spruce ( Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm.), and Douglas-fir ( Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco var. glauca [Beissn.] Franco)-by pooling data collected from multiple fire-injury studies.

Fire Response to Local Climate Variability: Huascarán National Park, Peru
Authors: John All , Michael J. Medler , Sylvie Arques , Rebecca Cole , Tommy Woodall , Justin King , Jun Yan , and Carl Schmitt

In Huascarán National Park (HNP), Peru, grazing and anthropogenic burning have been interacting for decades with natural ignitions and climate variability to reconfigure the fire regimes of the vegetative communities.  However, over the last few decades, human alterations to the region's fire regime were perceived by resource managers to have led to an overall increase in fire occurrence and fire extent.  Resource managers are now very concerned about the impacts of increasing anthropogenic fires in the National Park because these fires seem to disrupt ecological processes and tourism.

Decade-Long Plant Community Responses to Shrubland Fuel Hazard Reduction
Authors:  Katherine M. Wilkin , Lauren C. Ponisio , Danny L. Fry , Carmen L. Tubbesing , Jennifer B. Potts , and Scott L. Stephens

Fuel hazard reduction treatments such as prescribed fire and mastication are widely used to reduce fuel hazard.  These treatments help protect people from wildfire, yet may not be mutually beneficial for people and ecosystems in areas adapted to infrequent crown fire.  Short-term studies indicate that some fuel hazard reduction treatments can be detrimental to biodiversity and ecosystem function, suggesting that land managers face an acute dilemma between protecting people or ecosystems.  However, the long-term ecological trajectories and fuel hazard outcomes of fuel treatments are poorly understood.  Using a 13-year replicated experimental study, we evaluated how shrub cover, non-native species abundance, native species diversity, and an obligate seeder responded to fuel treatments in California's northern chaparral.

Short Communications

Vegetation Responses to Season of Fire in Tallgrass Prairie: A 13-Year Case Study
Authors:  John R. Weir and John D. Scasta

Fire regulates vegetation composition of fire-dependent grasslands in North American tallgrass prairies.  We measured the vegetation response to prescribed fire seasonality by burning in two-month increments every two years, from 2004 to 2015, west of Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA.  Fire exclusion or burning in any season led to an in increase in woody plant cover ranging from 18 % to 63 %, except for September through October, which showed no increase.

Black Carbon on Coarse Woody Debris in Once- and Twice-Burned Mixed-Conifer Forest
Authors: Aspen Ward , C. Alina Cansler , and Andrew J. Larson

One important outcome of wildfire is the production of charcoal.  Charcoal is highly resistant to decomposition and its physical and chemical properties enhance soil fertility and influence nutrient cycling.  We compared the amount of black C (the carbon fraction of charcoal) on coarse woody debris (CWD; ≥7.6 cm diameter) and total CWD biomass at sites burned once in a high-severity fire with sites that burned in an initial high-severity fire and then reburned eight to ten years later.

Forum: Issues, Management, Policy, and Opinions

Accommodating Mixed-Severity Fire to Restore and Maintain Ecosystem Integrity with a Focus on the Sierra Nevada of California, USA
Authors: Dominick A. DellaSala , Richard L. Hutto , Chad T. Hanson , Monica L. Bond , Timothy Ingalsbee , Dennis Odion , and William L. Baker

Existing fire policy encourages the maintenance of ecosystem integrity in fire management, yet this is difficult to implement on lands managed for competing economic, human safety, and air quality concerns.  We discuss a fire management approach in the mid-elevations of the Sierra Nevada, California, USA, that may exemplify similar challenges in other fire-adapted regions of the western USA.  We also discuss how managing for pyrodiversity through mixed-severity fires can promote ecosystem integrity in Sierran mixed conifer and ponderosa pine ( Pinus ponderosa Laws) forests.