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  • (2008) Disturbance history affects lightning fire initiation in the mixedwood boreal forest: Observations and simulations

    Raven Tree

    ABSTRACT: The emulation of natural disturbances such as fire is a prominent harvest management strategy for ecosystems in Canada’s boreal forest region, but the effect of harvesting on subsequent lightning fire occurrence has not been studied systematically in the mixedwood boreal forest. We quantified the relationship between annual patterns of lightning fire initiation, forest composition, lightning, and fire weather conditions over eight years (1994–2001) in a 60,000km2 region of actively harvested mixedwood boreal forest in western Canada. Our analyses illustrated that forest harvesting and burning had opposite effects on subsequent fire initiation, so harvest was not a surrogate for fire. Fire initiation increased in landscapes with more area harvested and decreased with area recently burned. Our data suggested that increased fire initiation was most pronounced in harvested stands up to a decade old, and there was some evidence that the effect might last as long as 30 years. We then used a dynamic fire- succession simulation model to quantify the long-term effects of these fuel-based relationships using two metrics. As expected, the first metric demonstrated that the number of years between disturbances was significantly less in stands that were harvested and then burned, than those that were burned and then burned again. However, the more revealing component of the simulations was an illustration that despite the strong, positive relationship between harvested areas and fire initiation, the area affected over the long-term by a reduced disturbance interval was relatively small. Accordingly, our study shows that spatiotemporal regulation of lightning fire initiation through harvesting activity results in a systematic accelerated frequency of disturbance that is novel to the mixedwood boreal system, but the area affected by these events amount to local peculiarities rather than broad-scaled regularities.


    Disturbance history affects lightning fire initiation in the mixedwood boreal forest- Observations and simulations Krawchuck (2008).pdf

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