Does fire occurrence modify the probability of being burned again? A null hypothesis test from Mediterranean ecosystems in NE Spain

Salvador R., Lloret F., Pons X., Piñol J. (2005) Does fire occurrence modify the probability of being burned again? A null hypothesis test from Mediterranean ecosystems in NE Spain. Ecological Modelling. 188: 461-469.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2004.12.017

Abstract:

Two main causes have been proposed as drivers of fire regime in Mediterranean-type ecosystems: fuel build-up and weather conditions. If fuel build-up is the main cause, then areas recently burned will not burn again until some years later. Contrarily, if weather is the main cause, then all areas will burn irrespective of their age. We have devised a statistical test aimed to distinguish between these two hypotheses. To use the test is necessary to know the spatial distribution of fires during a period of time as long as possible. Then, a percolation algorithm procedure is applied to mimic the location, extent, and perimeter/area ratio of the real fires, independently of previous fire occurrence. This model is run many times and each run is considered a realization under the null hypothesis that a pixel burns irrespectively of whether it was burnt in the previous years. The actual number of pixels burned twice is then compared to the histogram of the probability density function of pixels burned twice, which is obtained from the simulations. Actual values falling in the right tail of the distribution point to a clumped pattern (fires tend to be more abundant in some locations), while falling in the left tail will indicate a segregated pattern (burning reduces the probability of further fires in the same site). The method was applied to three different areas of Catalonia (NE Spain) by comparing the actual fires from 1975 to 1998 to the pattern obtained from random fire simulations. An aggregated pattern was obtained in two of the studied areas when the origin of the simulated fires was located randomly, indicating that fires were not uniformly distributed in the territory. When the simulations were started at the centroids of the real fires, the null hypothesis of independence from previous fires was not rejected, and the fuel-driven assumption was not supported. In the third area, results were inconclusive because two large fires, occurred in 1994, totally changed the results obtained until then. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Statistical analysis of fire frequency models for Catalonia (NE Spain, 1975-1998) based on fire scar maps from Landsat MSS data

Díaz-Delgado R., Lloret F., Pons X. (2004) Statistical analysis of fire frequency models for Catalonia (NE Spain, 1975-1998) based on fire scar maps from Landsat MSS data. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 13: 89-99.
Link
Doi: 10.1071/WF02051

Abstract:

This paper estimates fire frequency in Catalonia (NE Spain) for the last quarter of the 20th Century (1975-1998) from historical burned area maps. Remote sensing images provided perimeters of fires ≥30 ha, which were used to characterize the temporal patterns of fire occurrence in Catalonia. Several fire frequency models were used to reproduce the observed pattern of wildfires occurrence in the study period. Natural fire rotation period was estimated to be 133 years. Poisson tests were carried out to check random fire occurrence either along the time period or across the analysed region. Observed fires were not randomly generated either in space or in time, despite being sampled using two different plot sizes. This sampling design was also used for Mean Fire Interval (MFI) analysis, which allowed us to significantly fit a Weibull distribution to the observed proportion of fire intervals (for both sample sizes), enabling us to estimate the hazard of burning, mortality, and survivorship functions. Finally, MFI was also applied to forest regions of Catalonia, which are defined according to forest management plans based on their homogeneous climatic conditions. Such an analysis revealed relevant differences in forest management and their consequences on fire occurrence.

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Influence of fire severity on plant regeneration by means of remote sensing imagery

Díaz-Delgado R., Lloret F., Pons X. (2003) Influence of fire severity on plant regeneration by means of remote sensing imagery. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 24: 1751-1763.
Link
Doi: 10.1080/01431160210144732

Abstract:

In this paper we analyse the interactions between fire severity (plant damage) and plant regeneration after fire by means of remote sensing imagery and a field fire severity map. A severity map was constructed over a large fire (2692 ha) occurring in July 1994 in the Barcelona province (north-east of Spain). Seven severity classes were assigned to the apparent plant damage as a function of burning intensity. Several Landsat TM and MSS images from dates immediately before and after the fire were employed to monitor plant regeneration processes as well as to evaluate the relationship with fire severity observed in situ. Plant regeneration was monitored using NDVI measurements (average class values standardized with neighbour unburned control plots). Pre-fire NDVI measurements were extracted for every plant cover category (7), field fire severity class (7), and spatial cross-tabulation of both layers (33) and compared to post-fire values. NDVI decline due to fire was positively correlated with field fire severity class. Results show different patterns of recovery for each dominant species, severity class and combination of both factors. For all cases a significant negative correlation was found between damage and regeneration ability. This work leads to a better understanding of the influence of severity, a major fire regime parameter on plant regeneration, and may aid to manage restoration on areas burned under different fire severity levels.

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Wildfires and landscape patterns in the Eastern Iberian Peninsula

Lloret F., Calvo E., Pons X., Díaz-Delgado R. (2002) Wildfires and landscape patterns in the Eastern Iberian Peninsula. Landscape Ecology. 17: 745-759.
Link
Doi: 10.1023/A:1022966930861

Abstract:

The relations between disturbance regime and landscape patterns have been developed from a theoretical perspective, but few studies have tested these relations when forces promoting opposing heterogeneity patterns are simultaneously operating on a landscape. This work provides quantitative evidence of these relations in areas dominated by human activity, showing that landscape heterogeneity decreases disturbance spread. In turn, disturbance introduces a source of landscape heterogeneity, but it is not enough to counterbalance the homogeneity trend due to agricultural abandonment. Land cover changes and wildfire occurrence (fires larger than 0.3 km2) have been monitored in the Tivissa municipality (208.4 km2) (Catalonia, NE Spain) from 1956 to 1993. Land cover maps were obtained from 1956, 1978 and 1993 and they were overlaid with fire occurrence maps obtained for the 1975-1995 period from 60 m resolution remote sensing images, which allow the identification of burned areas by sudden drops in Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Changes in landscape patterns in relation to fire regime have been analyzed considering several parameters: patch density, mean patch size, mean distance to the nearest neighbour of the same category, edge density, and the Shannon diversity index. In the 1956-1993 period there is a trend to increasing landscape homogenization due to the expansion of shrublands linked to a decrease in forest surface, and to the abandonment of agricultural lands. This trend, however, is not constant along all the period. Fires are more likely to occur in woody, homogenous areas, increasing landscape heterogeneity, as observed in the 1978-1993 period. This increase in heterogeneity does not counterbalance the general trend to landscape homogenization as a consequence of agricultural abandonment and the coalescence of natural vegetation patches.

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Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?

Doblas-Miranda E., Martinez-Vilalta J., Lloret F., Alvarez A., Avila A., Bonet F.J., Brotons L., Castro J., Curiel Yuste J., Diaz M., Ferrandis P., Garcia-Hurtado E., Iriondo J.M., Keenan T.F., Latron J., Llusia J., Loepfe L., Mayol M., More G., Moya D., Penuelas J., Pons X., Poyatos R., Sardans J., Sus O., Vallejo V.R., Vayreda J., Retana J. (0) Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 24: 25-43.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/geb.12224

Abstract:

Aim: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems serve as reference laboratories for the investigation of global change because of their transitional climate, the high spatiotemporal variability of their environmental conditions, a rich and unique biodiversity and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. As scientific development and environmental pressures increase, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate recent progress and to challenge research priorities in the face of global change. Location: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems. Methods: This article revisits the research priorities proposed in a 1998 assessment. Results: A new set of research priorities is proposed: (1) to establish the role of the landscape mosaic on fire-spread; (2) to further research the combined effect of different drivers on pest expansion; (3) to address the interaction between drivers of global change and recent forest management practices; (4) to obtain more realistic information on the impacts of global change and ecosystem services; (5) to assess forest mortality events associated with climatic extremes; (6) to focus global change research on identifying and managing vulnerable areas; (7) to use the functional traits concept to study resilience after disturbance; (8) to study the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic diversity as a source of forest resilience; (9) to understand the balance between C storage and water resources; (10) to analyse the interplay between landscape-scale processes and biodiversity conservation; (11) to refine models by including interactions between drivers and socio-economic contexts; (12) to understand forest-atmosphere feedbacks; (13) to represent key mechanisms linking plant hydraulics with landscape hydrology. Main conclusions: (1) The interactive nature of different global change drivers remains poorly understood. (2) There is a critical need for the rapid development of regional- and global-scale models that are more tightly connected with large-scale experiments, data networks and management practice. (3) More attention should be directed to drought-related forest decline and the current relevance of historical land use.

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