Multi-scale controls of historical forest-fire regimes: New insights from fire-scar networks

Donald A. Falk, Emily K. Heyerdahl, Peter M. Brown, Calvin Farris, Peter Z. Fulé, Donald McKenzie, Thomas W. Swetnam, Alan H. Taylor, Megan L. Van Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


Anticipating future forest-fire regimes under changing climate requires that scientists and natural resource managers understand the factors that control fire across space and time. Fire scars - proxy records of fires, formed in the growth rings of long-lived trees - provide an annually accurate window into past low-severity fire regimes. In western North America, networks of the fire-scar records spanning centuries to millennia now include hundreds to thousands of trees sampled across hundreds to many thousands of hectares. Development of these local and regional fire-scar networks has created a new data type for ecologists interested in landscape and climate regulation of ecosystem processes - which, for example, may help to explain why forest fires are widespread during certain years but not others. These data also offer crucial reference information on fire as a dynamic landscape process for use in ecosystem management, especially when managing for forest structure and resilience to climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-454
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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