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Fire in California's Ecosystems$
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Neil Sugihara

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246058

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246058.001.0001

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Fire as an Ecological Process

Fire as an Ecological Process

(p.58) chapter 4 Fire as an Ecological Process
Fire in California's Ecosystems

Neil G. Sugihara

Jan W. Van Wagtendonk

Joann Fites-Kaufman

University of California Press

This chapter investigates fire as a dynamic ecosystem process by first investigating fire in the context of general ecological theory, then discussing the concept of fire regimes, and finally by developing and applying a new framework for classifying fire regimes that better allows for the understanding of the patterns of fire as processes within ecosystems. Moreover, the chapter covers the succession theory and then proceeds through ecosystem, disturbance, and hierarchical theory. Next, it greatly expands on Agee’s (1993) treatment of conceptual distributions to include seven fire regime attributes, namely seasonality, fire return interval, fire size, spatial complexity, fireline intensity, fire severity, and fire type. Although humans have altered fire regimes throughout California for thousands of years, the pace of fire regime change has accelerated over the past 200 years. Recent and current management strategies have imposed directional changes on the pattern of fires in many California ecosystems.

Keywords:   fire, dynamic ecosystem, succession theory, hierarchical theory, California, seasonality, fire return interval, fire size, spatial complexity, fireline intensity

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