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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(7)

Fine-scale factors influence fire regimes in mixed-conifer forests on three high mountains in Mexico

Larissa L. Yocom A G, Peter Z. Fulé A, Donald A. Falk B, Celia García-Domínguez C, Eladio Cornejo-Oviedo D, Peter M. Brown E, José Villanueva-Díaz F, Julián Cerano F and Citlali Cortés Montaño A

A School of Forestry, PO Box 15018, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA.
B School of Natural Resources and the Environment, 325 Biological Sciences East, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
C Department of Ecology, School of Biology, University of La Laguna, 38206 San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.
D Department of Forestry, ‘Antonio Narro’ Autonomous Agrarian University, Calzada Antonio Narro 1923, 25084 Saltillo, Mexico.
E Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, 2901 Moore Lane, Fort Collins, CO, 80526 USA.
F National Institute of Forest, Agriculture, and Fisheries Research, National Center of Research on Water, Soil, Plants, and Atmosphere, Km 6.5 Margen Derecha Canal de Sacramento, C.P. 35140, Gómez Palacio, Durango, México.
G Corresponding author. Email: larissa.yocom@gmail.com

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(7) 959-968 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13214
Submitted: 17 December 2013  Accepted: 9 May 2014   Published: 11 September 2014

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We investigated the influence of broad- v. fine-scale factors on fire in an unusual landscape suitable for distinguishing the drivers of fire synchrony. Our study was conducted in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, in north-eastern Mexico. We worked in nine sites on three parallel mountains that receive nearly identical broad-scale climatic influence, but between which fires are unlikely to spread. We collected and cross dated samples from 357 fire-scarred trees in nine sites in high-elevation mixed-conifer forests and identified fire dates. We used Jaccard similarity analysis to evaluate synchrony among sites and quantified relationships between climate and fire occurrence. Fires were historically frequent (mean fire interval ranged from 8 to 16 years in all sites) and dates of fire exclusion ranged from 1887 to 1962. We found low fire synchrony among the three mountains, indicating a strong influence of fine-scale factors on fire occurrence. Fire regime attributes were similar across mountains despite the independence of fire dates. La Niña events were associated with fire over time, although not significantly since the 1830s. Our results highlight the importance of scale in describing fire regimes and suggest that we can use fire history to understand controls on complex ecosystem processes and patterns.

Additional keywords: climate, dendrochronology, fire history, fire synchrony, Sierra de Arteaga, Sierra Madre Oriental.


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