Title

Fire as a fundamental ecological process: Research advances and frontiers

Authors

Kendra K. McLauchlan, Kansas State University
Philip E. Higuera, University of Montana
Jessica Miesel, Michigan State University
Brendan M. Rogers, Woods Hole Research Center
Jennifer Schweitzer, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Jacquelyn K. Shuman, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Alan J. Tepley, University of Montana
J. Morgan Varner, Tall Timbers Research Station
Thomas T. Veblen, University of Colorado Boulder
Solny A. Adalsteinsson, Washington University in St. Louis
Jennifer K. Balch, University of Colorado Boulder
Patrick Baker, School of Ecosystem and Forest Science
Enric Batllori, CREAF - Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals
Erica Bigio, University of Nevada, Reno
Paulo Brando, University of California, Irvine
Megan Cattau, Boise State University
Melissa L. Chipman, Syracuse University
Janice Coen, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Raelene Crandall, University of Florida
Lori Daniels, The University of British Columbia
Neal Enright, Murdoch University
Wendy S. Gross, NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information
Brian J. Harvey, University of Washington, Seattle
Jeff A. Hatten, Oregon State University
Sharon Hermann, Auburn University
Rebecca E. Hewitt, Northern Arizona University
Leda N. Kobziar, University of Idaho
Jennifer B. Landesmann, Universidad Nacional del Comahue
Michael M. Loranty, Colgate University
S. Yoshi Maezumi, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Linda Mearns, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Max Moritz, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jonathan A. Myers, Washington University in St. Louis

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1-2020

Abstract

© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society Fire is a powerful ecological and evolutionary force that regulates organismal traits, population sizes, species interactions, community composition, carbon and nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. It also presents a rapidly growing societal challenge, due to both increasingly destructive wildfires and fire exclusion in fire-dependent ecosystems. As an ecological process, fire integrates complex feedbacks among biological, social and geophysical processes, requiring coordination across several fields and scales of study. Here, we describe the diversity of ways in which fire operates as a fundamental ecological and evolutionary process on Earth. We explore research priorities in six categories of fire ecology: (a) characteristics of fire regimes, (b) changing fire regimes, (c) fire effects on above-ground ecology, (d) fire effects on below-ground ecology, (e) fire behaviour and (f) fire ecology modelling. We identify three emergent themes: the need to study fire across temporal scales, to assess the mechanisms underlying a variety of ecological feedbacks involving fire and to improve representation of fire in a range of modelling contexts. Synthesis: As fire regimes and our relationships with fire continue to change, prioritizing these research areas will facilitate understanding of the ecological causes and consequences of future fires and rethinking fire management alternatives.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Journal of Ecology

First Page

2047

Last Page

2069

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