OOS 43 - Managing for Resilience In Wildfire-Prone Ecosystems: Toward An Ecological Basis

Thursday, August 9, 2012: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
B113, Oregon Convention Center
Nicholas A. Povak, USDA-FS, Pacific Southwest Research Station
Paul F. Hessburg, USDA-FS, Pacific Northwest Research Station

Ecosystems in western North America have evolved with wildfire and other important natural disturbances. Recent evidence suggests that ecosystem resilience (roughly speaking, the capacity to maintain structure and organization with recurrent disturbance) is an emergent property that develops over time as a result of non-stationary interactions among plant communities, local geography, climate, and past disturbances. These interactions occur at several spatial and temporal scales, with cross-scale connections, making relationships difficult to quantify and incorporate into management.

Fire-prone ecosystems have experienced tremendous changes over recent decades, largely as a result of human interactions and recent climate change. Recent increases in the size and severity of disturbances have led to unprecedented large-scale changes in landscape patterns and overall reductions in stability and resilience to natural disturbances. Management now and in the future hinges on the ability of managers to reincorporate natural disturbance patterns without incurring large-scale losses or subsequent undesired conversions to alternate states that are well outside their natural variability. To this end, ecologists are charged with quantifying past, current and future disturbance regimes to inform managers with ways to integrate disturbances, and the patch dynamics that support them, into their management decisions.

This oral session will address the concept of resilience to recurrent wildfire disturbances at a variety of spatial scales relevant to more ecologically-tuned management. Talks will focus on new research addressing a variety of crucial ecological implications for altered disturbance regimes, with an emphasis on directly relating the results back to restorative management of ecosystems. The session will begin by focusing on regional controls on contemporary fire regimes including weather/climate, fuels, topography, and their interactions at fine- to broad-scales, as well as the implications of future climate change on wildfire and vegetation patterns. Retrospective studies will then elucidate how landscape-level forest structural and compositional attributes in wildfire-prone systems have changed since the early twentieth century and how contemporary fires are currently altering these landscapes. The focus of the remaining talks will center around more synthetic concepts of landscape-level resilience to recurrent disturbances, how better to quantify resiliency, and what the implications are for managing for the sustainability of these systems.

1:30 PM
 Spatial controls on fire regimes in three fire-prone regions of the western US
Carol Miller, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station; Sandra L. Haire, University of Massachusetts; Sean A. Parks, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station; Marc-André Parisien, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
1:50 PM
 Interactions among climate, fuels, hydrology, and fire in landscapes of the western US
Jeremy S. Littell, USGS; Donald McKenzie, US Forest Service
2:10 PM
 Climate change mitigation and adaptation options for increasing resilience of fire-prone ecosystems in the North Cascades
Crystal L. Raymond, US Forest Service; David L. Peterson, USDA Forest Service; Regina Rochefort, National Park Service
2:30 PM
 Fire-prone landscapes as coupled human natural systems: An example from the eastern Cascades of Oregon
Thomas A. Spies, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; John Bailey, Oregon State Univeristy; John P. Bolte, Oregon State University; Sally Duncan, Oregon State University; Derrick Jacobs, Oregon State Univeristy; Christine Olsen, Oregon State University; Robert J. Pabst, Oregon State University
2:50 PM
 Fuel treatment impacts on wildfire severity and plant communities in dry mixed conifer forests of California
Jens T. Stevens, University of California; Hugh D. Safford, Regional Ecologist, USDA Forest Service; Andrew M. Latimer, University of California Davis
3:10 PM
3:20 PM
 Historical structure and composition of dry forests in south central Oregon
Keala Hagmann, University of Washington; Jerry F. Franklin, University of Washington; K. Norman Johnson, Oregon State University
3:40 PM
 Impacts of fire exclusion and recent managed fire on forest structure in old growth Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests: Resampling of 1911 timber inventories
Brandon Collins, USDA US Forest Service; Rick Everett, University of California, Berkeley; Scott Stephens, University of California, Berkeley
4:20 PM
 Rapid ecosystem shifts are triggered by interactions of severe landscape disturbance and climate change in the southwestern US
Donald A. Falk, University of Arizona; Andrea E. Thode, Northern Arizona University; Rachel Loehman, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
4:40 PM
 Environmental settings and spatial contexts of wildfire refugia in early 20th century mixed conifer ecosystems of the eastern Cascades
Nicholas A. Povak, USDA-FS, Pacific Southwest Research Station; Paul F. Hessburg, USDA-FS, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Jerry F. Franklin, University of Washington
See more of: Organized Oral Session