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Mixed-conifer forest

Multi-scale reconstructions of human-climate-fire interactions in mixed-conifer forests of the Northern Rockies

NIFA logoIn the northern Rocky Mountains, dry to mesic forests broadly considered to have historically sustained mixed-severity fire regimes are increasingly targeted for fuel reduction treatments, despite a lack of information about historical forest conditions, wildfire dynamics, and the impact of treatments on ecosystem processes in these forests. This project focuses on understanding how human-climate-vegetation interactions and feedbacks have shaped mixed-severity fire regimes and how recent land-use and changing climatic conditions are influencing fire and forest dynamics in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Black Boar wetland

WildFIRE PIRE: Feedbacks and consequences of altered fire regimes in the face of climate and land-use change in Tasmania, New Zealand, and the western U.S.

NSF imageWildFIRE:PIRE is an international partnership focused on the causes and consequences of fire in the past, present, and future. WildFIRE PIRE seeks to advance research and education on a scientifically important and socially relevant theme: the extent to which human activities, vegetation change, and climate change interact to alter fire regimes, ecosystem dynamics and ecosystem services. This project centers on reconstructing long- and short-term fire dynamics in watersheds where tree-ring data; charcoal, pollen, and lithologic records from lake-sediment cores; historical land-use and archeologic records; and modeling results can be compared.

Lake Wilkie, South island, New Zealand

Rapid deforestation of South Island, New Zealand

NSF logoThe focus of this project is to better understand how climate and human activities interact to influence fire regimes in different settings. New Zealand offers the unique opportunity to examine dramatic changes to fire and vegetation over large landscapes in the relative absence of climate change. This research will provide insights into the natural resilience of different ecosystems to disturbance and how human impacts and climate may interact to alter ecosystems in the future.

Possum Lagoon, Tasmania

Human impacts, Flinders Island, Tasmania


NSF logoFor thousands of years low sea levels allowed humans to migrate between Flinders Island, Tasmania and mainland Australia. As sea levels began to rise 14 thousand years ago humans became isolated on Flinders Island and an absence of archeological evidence after ~4,500 years ago suggests humans no longer occupied the island. With this unique history of human settlement, we will use past records of climate, vegetation and fire to disentangle the relative influence of climate and humans in shaping fire regimes and vegetation in forests that vary between those dominated by species well adapted to fire (Eucalypt. spp) and (Callitris and Causurina spp.).

Fire in Miombo woodland, Mozambique

Fire in Miombo woodlands of southern Africa

National Geographic logoFire is a key ecological agent in the savanna biome, burning millions of square kilometers of savanna each year. Fire plays an important role in maintaining seasonally dry, species-rich, tropical savanna woodlands (Miombo woodlands) that are the dominant vegetation type across southern Africa yet the role of fire maintaining these woodlands is still poorly understood. Using detailed analyses of pollen, charcoal and geochemical elements from lake sediment records, our research will be used to reconstruct vegetation and fire histories for central Mozambique. This research will provide historical context for management and conservation of Miombo woodlands by identifying long-term trends in the abundance of Miombo woodland species and comparing these trends with variations in climate and fire.

Mosaic of forest age classes, Springfield Oregon

Biodiversity potential in the northwestern US


NFWF logoManaging forest lands for biodiversity is a common goal in the public and private forests of the Pacific Northwest and is typically achieved through harvests that result in an array of vegetation structural conditions that provide suitable habitat for a number of species. The primary aim of this research is to better understand how species respond to both local and landscape-scale forest structural conditions in landscapes with different levels of productivity. Results will be used to guide management of forests across the northwestern US.