CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > International Journal of Wildland Fire   
International Journal of Wildland Fire
  Published on behalf of the International Association of Wildland Fire
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Sample Issue
20-Year Author Index
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with CP
blank image
facebook twitter LinkedIn

red arrow Connect with IAWF
blank image
facebook twitter LinkedIn


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(1)

Can precipitation influence landscape controls on wildfire severity? A case study within temperate eucalypt forests of south-eastern Australia

L. Collins A B, R. A. Bradstock A and T. D. Penman A

A Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522 Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: lcollins@uow.edu.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(1) 9-20 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF12184
Submitted: 30 October 2012  Accepted: 27 May 2013   Published: 23 September 2013

PDF (726 KB) $25
 Export Citation

The environmental, economic and social impacts of wildfires depend on spatial patterns of fire severity. An understanding as to how drivers of fire severity vary across broad vegetation communities exists. However, examination of variation within communities in response to gradients of moisture has received little attention so far. This study examined whether relationships between environmental variables (i.e. fire weather, topography and fuel age) and fire severity were modified by increasing mean annual precipitation. Understorey fires were more likely to occur in young fuels (i.e. <5 years since fire) in drier sites, although this effect diminished as precipitation increased. The probability of occurrence of understorey fires under non-extreme weather and on steep slopes was reduced in wetter areas. Relationships between crown fire and weather, topography and fuel age were largely unaltered by the precipitation gradient, with only a marginally significant interaction occurring between weather and mean annual precipitation. Greater fine fuel accumulation associated with increased precipitation presumably reduced fuel limitations imposed by environmental factors (i.e. fire weather, slope, fuel age), altering their relative control on the probability of understorey fire. The probability of crown fires is predominantly driven by fire weather and is consequently less sensitive to precipitation gradients. Consideration of precipitation gradients will be necessary when identifying controls of fire severity and devising effective fire management strategies.

Additional keywords: dry sclerophyll forest, fire management, fire regimes.


Archibald S, Roy DP, Van Wilgen BW, Scholes RJ (2009) What limits fire? An examination of drivers of burnt area in Southern Africa. Global Change Biology 15, 613–630.
CrossRef |

Austin AT (2002) Differential effects of precipitation on productivity and decomposition along a rainfall gradient in Hawaii. Ecology 83, 328–338.

Beaty RM, Taylor AH (2001) Spatial and temporal variation of fire regimes in a mixed conifer forest landscape, Southern Cascades, California, USA. Journal of Biogeography 28, 955–966.
CrossRef |

Blanchi R, Lucas C, Leonard J, Finkele K (2010) Meteorological conditions and wildfire-related houseloss in Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire 19, 914–926.

Bradstock RA (2008) Effects of large fires on biodiversity in south-eastern Australia: disaster or template for diversity? International Journal of Wildland Fire 17, 809–822.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA (2010) A biogeographic model of fire regimes in Australia: current and future implications. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19, 145–158.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA, Kenny BJ (2003) An application of plant functional types to fire management in a conservation reserve in southeastern Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science 14, 345–354.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA, Gill AM, Kenny BJ, Scott J (1998) Bushfire risk at the urban interface estimated from historical weather records: consequences for the use of prescribed fire in the Sydney region of south-eastern Australia. Journal of Environmental Management 52, 259–271.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA, Cohn JS, Gill AM, Bedward M, Lucas C (2009) Prediction of the probability of large fires in the Sydney region of south-eastern Australia using fire weather. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 932–943.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA, Hammill KA, Collins L, Price O (2010) Effects of weather, fuel and terrain on fire severity in topographically diverse landscapes of south-eastern Australia. Landscape Ecology 25, 607–619.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA, Cary GJ, Davies I, Lindenmayer DB, Price OF, Williams RJ (2012) Wildfires, fuel treatment and risk mitigation in Australian eucalypt forests: insights from landscape-scale simulation. Journal of Environmental Management 105, 66–75.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) ‘Model Selection and Multi-Model Inference: a Practical Information–Theoretic Approach (2nd Edition)’, 2nd edn (Springer: Secaucus, NJ)

Caccamo G, Chisholm LA, Bradstock RA, Puotinen M, Pippen BG (2012) Remote monitoring of live fuel moisture content of fire prone vegetation types using MODIS satellite data. International Journal of Wildland Fire 21, 257–269.
CrossRef |

Camp A, Oliver C, Hessburg P, Everett R (1997) Predicting late-successional fire refugia pre-dating European settlement in the Wenatchee Mountains. Forest Ecology and Management 95, 63–77.
CrossRef |

Cary GJ, Bradstock RA, Gill AM, Williams RJ (2012) Global change and fire regimes in Australia. In ‘Flammable Australia: Fire Regimes, Biodiversity and Ecosystems in a Changing World’. (Eds RA Bradstock, AM Gill, RJ Williams) pp. 149–169. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Catchpole W (2002) Fire properties and burn patterns in heterogeneous landscapes. In ‘Flammable Australia: Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent’. (Eds RA Bradstock, JE Williams, AM Gill) pp. 49–76. (Cambridge University Press: Melbourne)

Chafer CJ, Noonan M, Macnaught E (2004) The post-fire measurement of fire severity and intensity in the Christmas 2001 Sydney wildfires. International Journal of Wildland Fire 13, 227–240.
CrossRef |

Collins BM, Kelly M, van Wagtendonk JW, Stephens SL (2007) Spatial patterns of large natural fires in Sierra Nevada wilderness areas. Landscape Ecology 22, 545–557.
CrossRef |

CSIRO, Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2007) Climate change in Australia: technical report 2007. (CSIRO) Available at http://www. climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/ [Verified 29 October 2012]

Department of Sustainability and Environment (2003) Ecological impacts of fuel reduction burning in a mixed eucalypt foothill forest – summary report (1984–1999). Fire Research Report number 57, Department of Sustainability and Environment. (Melbourne)

Dwire KA, Kauffman JB (2003) Fire and riparian ecosystems in landscapes of the western USA. Forest Ecology and Management 178, 61–74.
CrossRef |

Fairley A, Moore P (2000) ‘Native Plants of the Sydney District: an Identification Guide.’ (Kangaroo Press: Sydney)

Fernandes PM, Botelho HS (2003) A review of prescribed burning effectiveness in fire hazard reduction. International Journal of Wildland Fire 12, 117–128.
CrossRef |

Fox BJ, Fox MD, McKay GM (1979) Litter accumulation after fire in a eucalypt forest. Australian Journal of Botany 27, 157–165.
CrossRef |

Franklin JF, Spies TA, Van Pelt R, Carey AB, Thornburgh DA, Rae Berg D, Lindenmayer DB, Harmon ME, Keeton WS, Shaw DC, Bible K, Chen J (2002) Disturbances and structural development of natural forest ecosystems with silvicultural implications, using Douglas-fir forests as an example. Forest Ecology and Management 155, 399–423.
CrossRef |

Gill AM, Christian KR, Moore PHR (1987) Bushfire incidence, fire hazard and fuel reduction burning. Australian Journal of Ecology 12, 299–306.
CrossRef |

Govender N, Trollope WSW, van Wilgen BW (2006) The effect of fire season, fire frequency, rainfall and management on fire intensity in savanna vegetation in South Africa. Journal of Applied Ecology 43, 748–758.
CrossRef |

Haining R (2003) ‘Spatial Data Analysis: Theory and Practice.’ (Cambridge University Press: New York)

Hammill KA, Bradstock RA (2006) Remote sensing of fire severity in the Blue Mountains: influence of vegetation type and inferring fire intensity. International Journal of Wildland Fire 15, 213–226.
CrossRef |

Harrell FE (2009). Design: design package. R package version 2.3–0. Available at http://cran.r-project.org/src/contrib/Archive/Design/ [Verified 16 July 2013]

Huston M (2003) Understanding the effects of fire and other mortality causing disturbances on species diversity. In ‘Fire in Ecosystems of South-west Western Australia: Impacts and Management’. (Eds I Abbott, N Burrows) pp. 37–70. (Backhuys Publishers: Leiden, the Netherlands)

Jones DA, Wang W, Fawcett R (2009) High-quality spatial climate data-sets for Australia. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal 58, 233–248.

Kauffman JB (2001) Workshop on the multiple influences of riparian/stream ecosystems on fires in western forest landscapes. Summary report. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Stream Systems Technology Center. (Fort Collins, CO) Available at http://stream.fs.fed.us/publications/PDFs/Riparian%20Fire%20Final.pdf [Verified 16 July 2013]

Keeley JE (2009) Fire intensity, fire severity and burn severity: a brief review and suggested usage. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 116–126.
CrossRef |

Keith D (2004) ‘Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes: the Native Vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT.’ (Department of Environment and Conservation: Sydney)

Keith H, Mackey BG, Lindenmayer DB (2009) Re-evaluation of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world’s most carbon-dense forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, 11 635–11 640.

King KJ, de Ligt RM, Cary GJ (2011) Fire and carbon dynamics under climate change in south-eastern Australia: insights from FullCAM and FIRESCAPE modelling. International Journal of Wildland Fire 20, 563–577.
CrossRef | CAS |

Krawchuk MA, Moritz MA (2011) Constraints on global fire activity vary across a resource gradient. Ecology 92, 121–132.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Lentile LB, Holden ZA, Smith AM, Falkowski MJ, Hudak AT, Morgan P, Lewis SA, Gessler PE, Benson NC (2006) Remote sensing techniques to assess active fire characteristics and post-fire effects. International Journal of Wildland Fire 15, 319–345.
CrossRef |

Logan M (2010) ‘Biostatistical Design and Analysis using R: a Practical Guide.’ (Wiley Blackwell: Chichester, UK)

Luke RH, McArthur AG (1978) Bushfires in Australia. Department of Primary Industries, Forestry and Timber Bureau, CSIRO Division of Forest Research. (Canberra)

Mackey B, Lindenmayer D, Gill M, McCarthy M, Lindesay J (2002) ‘Wildlife, Fire and Future Climate: a Forest Ecosystem Analysis.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

McCarthy GJ, Tolhurst KG (2001) ‘Effectiveness of broadscale fuel reduction burning in assisting with wildfire control in parks and forests in Victoria’ Natural Resources and Environment, Fire Management Research Report number 51. (Melbourne)

Morrison DA, Buckney RT, Bewick BJ (1996) Conservation conflicts over burning bush in south-eastern Australia. Biological Conservation 76, 167–175.
CrossRef |

Murphy BP, Russell-Smith J (2010) Fire severity in a northern Australian savanna landscape: the importance of time since previous fire. International Journal of Wildland Fire 19, 46–51.
CrossRef |

Noble IR, Bary GAV, Gill AM (1980) McArthur’s fire-danger meters expressed as equations. Australian Journal of Ecology 5, 201–203.
CrossRef |

Parisien M, Snetsinger S, Greenberg JA, Nelson CR, Schoennagel T, Dobrowski SZ, Moritz MA (2012) Spatial variability in wildfire probability across the western United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire 21, 313–327.
CrossRef |

Pekin BK, Boer MM, Macfarlane C, Grierson PF (2009) Impacts of increased fire frequency and aridity on eucalypt forest structure, biomass and composition in southwest Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 258, 2136–2142.
CrossRef |

Penman TD, York A (2010) Climate and recent fire history affect fuel loads in Eucalyptus forests: implications for fire management in a changing climate. Forest Ecology and Management 260, 1791–1797.
CrossRef |

Penman TD, Kavanagh RP, Binns DL, Melick DR (2007) Patchiness of prescribed burns in dry sclerophyll eucalypt forests in south-eastern Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 252, 24–32.
CrossRef |

Penman TD, Christie FJ, Andersen AN, Bradstock RA, Cary GJ, Henderson MK, Price O, Tran C, Wardle GM, Williams RJ, York A (2011) Prescribed burning: how can it work to conserve the things we value? International Journal of Wildland Fire 20, 721–733.
CrossRef |

Perry DA, Hessburg PF, Skinner CN, Spies TA, Stephens SL, Henry Taylor A, Franklin JF, McComb B, Riegel G (2011) The ecology of mixed severity fire regimes in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. Forest Ecology and Management 262, 703–717.
CrossRef |

Plucinski MP, McCarthy GJ, Hollis JJ, Gould JS (2012) The effect of aerial suppression on the containment time of Australian wildfires estimated by fire management personnel. International Journal of Wildland Fire 21, 219–229.
CrossRef |

Pontius RG, Schneider LC (2001) Land-cover change model validation by an ROC method for the Ipswich watershed, Massachusetts, USA. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 85, 239–248.
CrossRef |

Price OF, Bradstock RA (2012) The efficacy of fuel treatment in mitigating property loss during wildfires: Insights from analysis of the severity of the catastrophic fires in 2009 in Victoria, Australia. Journal of Environmental Management 113, 146–157.
CrossRef | PubMed |

R Development Core Team (2010) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. (R Foundation for Statistical Computing: Vienna, Austria)

Schoennagel T, Velben TT, Romme WH (2004) The interaction of fire, fuels and climate across Rocky Mountain forests. Bioscience 54, 661–676.
CrossRef |

Schoennagel T, Smithwick EA, Turner MG (2008) Landscape heterogeneity following large fires: insights from Yellowstone National Park, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire 17, 742–753.
CrossRef |

Seydack AHW, Bekker SJ, Marshall AH (2007) Shrubland fire regime scenarios in the Swartberg Mountain Range, South Africa: implications for fire management. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16, 81–95.
CrossRef |

Sing T, Sander O, Beerenwinkel N, Lengauer T (2009). ROCR: Visualizing the performance of scoring classifiers. R package version 1.0–4. Available at http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/ROCR/index.html [Verified 16 July 2013]

Sullivan AL, McCaw WL, Cruz MG, Matthews S, Ellis PF (2012) Fuel, fire weather and fire behaviour in Australian ecosystems. In ‘Flammable Australia: Fire Regimes, Biodiversity and Ecosystems in a Changing World’. (Eds RA Bradstock, AM Gill, RJ Williams) pp. 51–77 (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Taylor AH, Skinner CN (1998) Fire history and landscape dynamics in a late-successional reserve, Klamath Mountains, California, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 111, 285–301.
CrossRef |

Thompson JR, Spies TA (2009) Vegetation and weather explain variation in crown damage within a large mixed-severity wildfire. Forest Ecology and Management 258, 1684–1694.
CrossRef |

Threlfall C, Law B, Penman T, Banks PB (2011) Ecological processes in urban landscapes: mechanisms influencing the distribution and activity of insectivorous bats. Ecography 34, 814–826.
CrossRef |

Tindall D, Pennay C, Tozer M, Turner K, Keith D (2004) Native vegetation map report series. Number 4. NSW Department of Environment and Conservation and NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources. (Sydney)

Walsh C, Mac Nally R (2012) hier.part: Hierarchical Partitioning. R package version 1.0–3. Available at http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/hier.part/index.html [Verified 16 July 2013]

Watson P, Penman S, Horsey B (2012) Bushfire fuels in NSW forests and grassy woodlands: fuel modelling project final report. Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfire, University of Wollongong. (Wollongong, NSW)

Wood SW, Murphy BP, Bowman DMJS (2011) Firescape ecology: how topography determines the contrasting distribution of fire and rain forest in the south-west of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Journal of Biogeography 38, 1807–1820.
CrossRef |

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2015