How Fire History, Fire Suppression Practices and Climate Change Affect Wildfire Regimes in Mediterranean Landscapes

Brotons L., Aquilue N., de Caceres M., Fortin M.-J., Fall A. (2013) How Fire History, Fire Suppression Practices and Climate Change Affect Wildfire Regimes in Mediterranean Landscapes. PLoS ONE. 8: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062392

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Available data show that future changes in global change drivers may lead to an increasing impact of fires on terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. Yet, fire regime changes in highly humanised fire-prone regions are difficult to predict because fire effects may be heavily mediated by human activities We investigated the role of fire suppression strategies in synergy with climate change on the resulting fire regimes in Catalonia (north-eastern Spain). We used a spatially-explicit fire-succession model at the landscape level to test whether the use of different firefighting opportunities related to observed reductions in fire spread rates and effective fire sizes, and hence changes in the fire regime. We calibrated this model with data from a period with weak firefighting and later assess the potential for suppression strategies to modify fire regimes expected under different levels of climate change. When comparing simulations with observed fire statistics from an eleven-year period with firefighting strategies in place, our results showed that, at least in two of the three sub-regions analysed, the observed fire regime could not be reproduced unless taking into account the effects of fire suppression. Fire regime descriptors were highly dependent on climate change scenarios, with a general trend, under baseline scenarios without fire suppression, to large-scale increases in area burnt. Fire suppression strategies had a strong capacity to compensate for climate change effects. However, strong active fire suppression was necessary to accomplish such compensation, while more opportunistic fire suppression strategies derived from recent fire history only had a variable, but generally weak, potential for compensation of enhanced fire impacts under climate change. The concept of fire regime in the Mediterranean is probably better interpreted as a highly dynamic process in which the main determinants of fire are rapidly modified by changes in landscape, climate and socioeconomic factors such as fire suppression strategies. © 2013 Brotons et al.

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The combined effects of land-use legacies and novel fire regimes on bird distributions in the Mediterranean

De Caceres M., Brotons L., Aquilue N., Fortin M.-J. (2013) The combined effects of land-use legacies and novel fire regimes on bird distributions in the Mediterranean. Journal of Biogeography. 40: 1535-1547.
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Doi: 10.1111/jbi.12111

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Aim: We investigate first whether fire regimes resulting from the combination of climate change and fire-fighting policy may affect species distributions in Mediterranean landscapes, and second to what extent distributional dynamics may be constrained by the spatial legacy of historical land use. Location: Catalonia (north-eastern Spain). Methods: We modelled the distributional responses of 64 forest and open-habitat bird species to nine fire-regime scenarios, defined by combining different levels of climate change and fire suppression efficiency. A fire-succession model was used to stochastically simulate land-cover changes between 2000 and 2050 under these scenarios. We used species distribution models to predict habitat suitability and occupancy dynamics under either no dispersal or full dispersal assumptions. Results: Under many simulated scenarios, the succession from shrubland to forest dominated over the creation of new low-vegetation areas derived from wildfires. Consequently, open-habitat specialists were the group most affected by losses of suitable habitat. Fire regimes obtained under scenarios including high fire suppression efficiency resulted in a larger number of bird species experiencing reductions in their distribution area. Main conclusions: Anthropogenic factors, such as historical land-use change and fire suppression, can drive regional distribution dynamics in directions opposite to those expected from climatic trends. This raises the question of what drivers and interactions should be given priority in the prediction of biodiversity responses to global change at the regional scale. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Llegeix més

Dissimilarity measurements and the size structure of ecological communities

De Caceres M., Legendre P., He F. (2013) Dissimilarity measurements and the size structure of ecological communities. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 4: 1167-1177.
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Doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12116

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Summary: Measurements of community resemblance in ecology are often based on species composition, and the starting point for calculations is usually a site-by-species data table. However, resemblance measurements may not be sufficiently accurate when communities are described using species composition only. Characteristics such as the size of their constituting organisms are also important to understand community organization. Here, we provide a framework that generalizes conventional resemblance measurements by incorporating the size structure of the compared communities. We first introduce the concept of cumulative abundance profile, which generalizes traditional species abundance values, and describe how to calculate it. We then explain our approach to compare cumulative abundance profiles in community resemblance measurements and use a small simulation study to determine which resemblance coefficients appropriately deal with compositional and structural differences. After that, we present an illustrative example where we study the structural and compositional variation between and within six Douglas-fir forest plots in British Columbia, Canada. According to our investigations, the generalizations we suggest for the percentage difference (alias Bray-Curtis dissimilarity) and the Ružička coefficients are appropriate to measure community resemblance in terms of size structure, species composition or both. Our framework allows community resemblance to be measured in terms of either size structure or species composition, or both. A broad range of applications is expected. In the case of terrestrial plant communities, potential applications include analyses of community dynamics and classification of vegetation. © 2013 British Ecological Society.

Llegeix més

Beta diversity as the variance of community data: Dissimilarity coefficients and partitioning

Legendre P., De Caceres M. (2013) Beta diversity as the variance of community data: Dissimilarity coefficients and partitioning. Ecology Letters. 16: 951-963.
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Doi: 10.1111/ele.12141

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Beta diversity can be measured in different ways. Among these, the total variance of the community data table Y can be used as an estimate of beta diversity. We show how the total variance of Y can be calculated either directly or through a dissimilarity matrix obtained using any dissimilarity index deemed appropriate for pairwise comparisons of community composition data. We addressed the question of which index to use by coding 16 indices using 14 properties that are necessary for beta assessment, comparability among data sets, sampling issues and ordination. Our comparison analysis classified the coefficients under study into five types, three of which are appropriate for beta diversity assessment. Our approach links the concept of beta diversity with the analysis of community data by commonly used methods like ordination and anova. Total beta can be partitioned into Species Contributions (SCBD: degree of variation of individual species across the study area) and Local Contributions (LCBD: comparative indicators of the ecological uniqueness of the sites) to Beta Diversity. Moreover, total beta can be broken up into within- and among-group components by manova, into orthogonal axes by ordination, into spatial scales by eigenfunction analysis or among explanatory data sets by variation partitioning. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.

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