Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Without fire, red pines could disappear, model shows

05.08.2002


In the northeastern corner of Minnesota stand towering groves of red pine trees stretching some 80 feet into the sky.



But these red pine groves could eventually vanish from Minnesota’s Boundary Water Canoe Area if what we usually view as a foe to forests -- fire -- fails to sweep the terrain occasionally, says a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"The big, natural groves of red pine are one of the most unique features of the BWCA. But, because of fire suppression, we’re starting to lose them forever," says Robert Scheller, a UW-Madison forest ecologist working with professor David Mladenoff.


Before people settled the area in the early 1900s, fires -- started primarily by lightning bolts -- swept through the area every 50 to 100 years. While the blazes reduced most vegetation to ashes, they enabled the surviving trees, such as the red pine, to reproduce more easily.

"The fires cleared dense brush so the red pines could drop their seeds on the forest floor and also triggered the release of seeds from pine cones belonging to other fire-adaptive trees," Scheller says.

However, when settlers started taking active measures to suppress natural fires, red pines experienced more difficulty regenerating: other trees and shrubs filled the forest understory. This growth inhibited the red pine from seeding and remaining a key part of this northern ecosystem.

"Red pines have a life span of about 300 years," says Scheller, "and many of the ones in BWCA are already old." Without fire to help them successfully reproduce, he adds, it’s unlikely that the older trees will be replaced once they die.

Nearly a century after fire suppression was first introduced, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service is now considering the use of fire in the boundary waters area. To explore the long-term effects continued fire suppression and regular burnings, Scheller has developed a model that shows the outcomes of both scenarios. The findings were presented today, Aug. 5, at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.

"We wanted to know the consequences of different kinds of future forest management over the BWCA," he says. "Would reintroducing fire bring back the red pines?"

Taking into account the species’ ages and life histories, as well as forest composition, climate and soil, Scheller used the landscape simulation model LANDIS, which was developed at UW-Madison, to predict what might happen across the entire area if fire was reintroduced. Specifically, Scheller studied four scenarios over a 300-year time period: continued fire suppression and fires about every 50, 100 or 300 years.

The model shows that continued fire suppression would lead to the disappearance of not just red pines but also jack pine, aspen and birch trees within 300 years. "If full fire suppression continues," Scheller explains, "the forest may never recover and red pine may be lost as a locally dominant species."

The model suggests that while a fire every 300 years would preserve red pines, it would not save the jack pine, another tree species dependent on fire for reproduction. Fires every 50 to 100 years, as they once occurred naturally, would maintain tree diversity; and, a fire every 50 years would increase the number of red pines.

Fire suppression policies implemented in this century and advocated by icons like Smokey Bear, are meant to preserve the natural beauty of forests, says Scheller. But as he points out, "the model shows that fire is a necessary process for maintaining the natural community. Without it, the characteristics that define the wilderness of the BWCA will completely change."


###
Scheller’s work is funded by the USDA Forest Service, which plans to use the model to develop a long-term perspective on fire and forest management.

-- Emily Carlson (608) 262-9772, emilycarlson@facstaff.wisc.edu

Robert Scheller | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>