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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(5)

Modern fire regime resembles historical fire regime in a ponderosa pine forest on Native American lands

Amanda B. Stan A C, Peter Z. Fulé A, Kathryn B. Ireland A and Jamie S. Sanderlin B

A School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, PO Box 15018, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA.
B USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2500 Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA.
C Present Address: Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation, Northern Arizona University, PO Box 15016, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA.
D Corresponding author. Email: amanda.stan@nau.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(5) 686-697 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13089
Submitted: 30 May 2013  Accepted: 14 January 2014   Published: 22 May 2014

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Forests on tribal lands in the western United States have seen the return of low-intensity surface fires for several decades longer than forests on non-tribal lands. We examined the surface fire regime in a ponderosa pine-dominated (Pinus ponderosa) forest on the Hualapai tribal lands in the south-western United States. Using fire-scarred trees, we inferred temporal (frequency and seasonality) and spatial (synchrony) attributes and regulators of the fire regime over three land-use periods (historical, suppression, modern) between 1702 and 2007. Patterns of fire frequency and synchrony were similar, but fire seasonality was dissimilar, between the historical and modern periods. Logistic regression and generalised linear mixed models identified a suite of variables representing fuels, climate and human land uses that were associated with the probability of a site burning. Combined, these results allow for valuable insights regarding past fire spread and variability in fire frequency throughout our study area. In some respects, the current distinct fire regime in our study area, which predominately consists of prescribed fires implemented since the 1960s, resembles the past frequent surface fire regime that occurred here and in similar forest types on non-tribal lands in the south-western United States. Our results will be useful for informing adaptive management throughout the region as climate warms.

Additional keywords: climate, dendrochronology, fire scars, fuels, generalised linear mixed models, Hualapai Tribe, logistic regression models, Pinus ponderosa, prescribed fire, south-western United States.


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