Influence of short-interval fire occurrence on post-fire recovery of fire-prone shrublands in California, USA

Caitlin L. Lippitt, Douglas A. Stow, John F. O'Leary, Janet Franklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent decades, fire frequency has increased with population growth at the wildland-urban interface in southern California, USA. Short intervals (<5 years) between successive fires can be detrimental to plant species that require longer intervals between fires to reach reproductive maturity. The resilience of vegetation to changes in fire regimes is of particular interest for shrublands in Mediterranean climates, which in general are susceptible to high frequencies of wildfire. Research on how fire has shaped the life histories of shrubs in Mediterranean climates is central to understanding how to protect sensitive habitat while allowing for the natural occurrence of wildfire in these regions. Frequently burned chamise chaparral shrublands in San Diego County, California, were mapped in the field with the aid of satellite imagery and analysed to investigate changes in vegetation condition and composition associated with short intervals between fires. Fire history, terrain and land-cover characteristics of mapped stands were tested to determine the factors associated with disturbed and converted vegetation. Results indicate that number of burns and mean fire interval are contributing factors in post-fire change in chaparral stands. Chamise chaparral is vulnerable to alteration and type conversion when fire return intervals are 4-5 years or less.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2 2013

Keywords

  • San Diego County
  • chamise
  • chaparral
  • fire frequency
  • type conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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