International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Spatial and temporal drivers of wildfire occurrence in the context of rural development in northern Wisconsin, USA

Brian R. Miranda A D , Brian R. Sturtevant A , Susan I. Stewart B and Roger B. Hammer C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies, 5985 Highway K, Rhinelander, WI 54501, USA.

B USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 1033 University Place, Suite 360, Evanston, IL 60201, USA.

C Oregon State University, Department of Sociology, 307 Fairbanks Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: brmiranda@fs.fed.us

International Journal of Wildland Fire 21(2) 141-154 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF10133
Submitted: 24 November 2010  Accepted: 21 May 2011   Published: 14 December 2011

Abstract

Most drivers underlying wildfire are dynamic, but at different spatial and temporal scales. We quantified temporal and spatial trends in wildfire patterns over two spatial extents in northern Wisconsin to identify drivers and their change through time. We used spatial point pattern analysis to quantify the spatial pattern of wildfire occurrences, and linear regression to quantify the influence of drought and temporal trends in annual number and mean size of wildfires. Analyses confirmed drought as an important driver of both occurrences and fire size. When both drought and time were incorporated in linear regression models, the number of wildfires showed a declining trend across the full study area, despite housing density increasing in magnitude and spatial extent. Fires caused by campfires and debris-burning did not show any temporal trends. Comparison of spatial models representing biophysical, anthropogenic and combined factors demonstrated human influences on wildfire occurrences, especially human activity, infrastructure and property values. We also identified a non-linear relationship between housing density and wildfire occurrence. Large wildfire occurrence was predicted by similar variables to all occurrences, except the direction of influence changed. Understanding these spatial and temporal drivers of wildfire occurrence has implications for land-use planning, wildfire suppression strategies and ecological goals.

Additional keywords: Palmer Drought Severity Index, spatial point pattern analysis.


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