In the March issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Max Moritz (University of California, Berkeley), Jon Keeley (US Geological Survey and University of California, Los Angeles), Edward Johnson (University of Calgary) and Andrew Schaffner (Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo) present research that challenges some of the assumptions for managing fire-prone regions. With "Testing a basic assumption of shrubland fire management: how important is fuel age?," the authors suggest natural fire regimes, such as those found in southern California, are "more driven by extreme weather conditions" than age-related traits of the regions plant life.
Examining the fire history of coastal and southern California shrublands, the group discovered that the majority of shrublands risk of burning was fairly steady, at about 2.7 percent each year.
"Historical fire patterns and quantitative measures of hazard therefore refute the common assumption that fire probabilities in shrublands are strongly driven by vegetation age, and that large fires are necessarily caused by a buildup of older fuels," according to the study.
Nadine Lymn | EurekAlert!
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