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Ecological effects of alternative fuel-reduction treatments: highlights of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate study (FFS) Public Deposited

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  • The 12-site National Fire and Fire Surrogate study (FFS) was a multivariate experiment that evaluated ecological consequences of alternative fuel-reduction treatments in seasonally dry forests of the US. Each site was a replicated experiment with a common design that compared an un-manipulated control, prescribed fire, mechanical and mechanical + fire treatments. Variables within the vegetation, fuelbed, forest floor and soil, bark beetles, tree diseases and wildlife were measured in 10-ha stands, and ecological response was compared among treatments at the site level, and across sites, to better understand the influence of differential site conditions. For most sites, treated stands were predicted to be more resilient to wildfire if it occurred shortly after treatment, but for most ecological variables, short-term response to treatments was subtle and transient. Strong site-specificity was observed in the response of most ecosystem variables, suggesting that practitioners employ adaptive management at the local scale. Because ecosystem components were tightly linked, adaptive management would need to include monitoring of a carefully chosen set of key variables. Mechanical treatments did not serve as surrogates for fire for most variables, suggesting that fire be maintained whenever possible. Restoration to pre-settlement conditions will require repeated treatments over time, with eastern forests requiring more frequent applications.
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  • McIver, J. D., Stephens, S. L., Agee, J. K., Barbour, J., Boerner, R. E. J., Edminster, C. B., & Erickson, K. L. (2012, October 31). Ecological effects of alternative fuel-reduction treatments: highlights of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate study (FFS). International Journal of Wildland Fire, 22(1), 63-82. doi:10.1071/WF11130
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  • 22
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  • 1
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  • This is contribution number 200 of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate study, funded by the US Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP Grant numbers 99-S-1 and 04-S-02). Partial funding for the Blue Mountains site was provided by a grant from the USDA National Research Initiative (96–03859). Financial support for the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Gulf Coastal Plain sites was provided by the 2000 National Fire Plan. Contributed support, from the management community for the implementation of treatments, and from universities and federal research organisations for payment of permanent salaries, was also necessary to achieve project success.
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