Decreases in Fire Spread Probability with Forest Age Promotes Alternative Community States, Reduced Resilience to Climate Variability and Large Fire Regime Shifts

Authors
Kitzberger, Thomas; Aráoz, Ezequiel; Gowda, Juan Janakiram Haridas; Mermoz, Mónica Alicia; Morales, Juan Manuel
Publication Year
2012
Language
English
Format
article
Status
Published version
Description
The generalization that plant communities increase in flammability as they age and invariably lead to resilient self-organized landscape mosaics is being increasingly challenged. Plant communities often exhibit rapidly saturating or even hump-shaped age-flammability trajectories and landscapes often display strong non-linear behaviors, abrupt shifts, and self-reinforcing alternative community states. This plethora of fire-landscape interactions calls for a more general model that considers alternative age-flammability rules. We simulated landscape dynamics assuming communities that (1) increase in flammability with age and (2) gain flammability up to a certain age followed by a slight and moderate loss to a constant value. Simulations were run under combinations of ignition frequency and interannual climatic variability. Age-increasing fire probability promoted high resilience to changes in ignition frequency and climatic variability whereas humpbacked-shaped age-flammability led to strong non-linear behaviors. Moderate (20%) reductions in mature compared to peak flammability produced the least resilient behaviors. The relatively non-flammable mature forest matrix intersected by young flammable patches is prone to break up and disintegrate with slight increases in ignition/climate variability causing large-scale shifts in the fire regime because large fires were able to sweep through the more continuous young/flammable landscape. Contrary to the dominant perception, fire suppression in landscapes with positive feedbacks may effectively reduce fire occurrence by allowing less flammable later stage communities composed of longer lived, obligate seeders to replace earlier stages of light demanding, often more flammable resprouters. Conversely, increases in anthropogenic ignitions, a common global trend of many forested regions may, in synergism with increased climate variability, induce abrupt shifts, and large-scale forest degradation.
Fil: Kitzberger, Thomas. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Patagonia Norte. Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Centro Regional Universidad Bariloche. Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente; Argentina. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche. Laboratorio de Ecotono; Argentina
Fil: Aráoz, Ezequiel. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. Instituto de Ecología Regional. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Tucumán. Instituto de Ecología Regional; Argentina. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas; Argentina
Fil: Gowda, Juan Janakiram Haridas. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Patagonia Norte. Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Centro Regional Universidad Bariloche. Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente; Argentina. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche. Laboratorio de Ecotono; Argentina
Fil: Mermoz, Mónica Alicia. Administración de Parques Nacionales. Delegación Regional Patagonia; Argentina
Fil: Morales, Juan Manuel. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Patagonia Norte. Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Centro Regional Universidad Bariloche. Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente; Argentina. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche. Laboratorio de Ecotono; Argentina
Subject
FIRE SUPPRESSION
FIRE-LANDSCAPE INTERACTIONS
FOREST DEGRADATION
FUEL
IGNITION FREQUENCY
PERCOLATION
POSITIVE FEEDBACKS
SELF-ORGANIZED BEHAVIOR
Otras Ciencias Biológicas
Ciencias Biológicas
CIENCIAS NATURALES Y EXACTAS
Access level
Restricted access
License
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ar/
Repository
CONICET Digital (CONICET)
Institution
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
OAI Identifier
oai:ri.conicet.gov.ar:11336/76526