Matthew B. Dickinson

Contact Info


Northern Research Station, Forestry Sciences Labor...
USDA Forest Service
359 Main Road
Delaware , OH 43015-8640 , United States

Publications in Fire Ecology

Introduction: Strengthening the Foundation of Wildland Fire Effects Prediction for Research and Management
Pages: 1-12
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0601001

As prescribed fire use increases and the options for responding to wildfires continue to expand beyond suppression, the need for improving fire effects prediction capabilities becomes increasingly apparent. The papers in this Fire Ecology special issue describe recent advances in fire effects prediction for key classes of direct (first-order) fire effects. Important gaps in predictive capabilities exist in pre-, active-, and post-fire measurement technology; in our ability to predict heat deposition to soil and plant surfaces from knowledge of fuels and models that simulate smoldering combustion, flame spread, and plume dynamics; in our ability to predict above and below ground plant heating and injury; in our understanding of the physiological causes of plant mortality; and in our knowledge of direct effects of fire on fauna and their habitats.  [Read More]

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Fire Metrology: Current and Future Directions in Physics-Based Measurements
Pages: 13-35
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0601013

The robust evaluation of fire impacts on the biota, soil, and atmosphere requires measurement and analysis methods that can characterize combustion processes across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Numerous challenges are apparent in the literature. These challenges have led to novel research to quantify the 1) structure and heterogeneity of the pre-fire vegetation; 2) energy released during the combustion process and the ultimate disposition of that energy through conduction, radiation, and convective transport; and 3) landscape-scale impacts of fire on soils, vegetation, and atmosphere. The grand challenge is how to integrate the pre-, active-, and post-fire measurements and physical process models into a single robust and well validated framework.  [Read More]

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Tree Injury and Mortality in Fires: Developing Process-Based Models
Pages: 55-79
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0601055

Wildland fire managers are often required to predict tree injury and mortality when planning a prescribed burn or when considering wildfire management options; and, currently, statistical models based on post-fire observations are the only tools available for this purpose. Implicit in the derivation of statistical models is the assumption that they are strictly applicable only for the species or conditions for which they were developed. The result has been a profusion of separate models of uncertain generality. A parallel research effort, the process approach, has been directed at modeling tree injury and mortality by directly simulating the energy-transfer process from the fire to the exterior surface of the plant, and thence into roots, stems, and foliage. Process models can currently predict stem or tree death if certain injury thresholds are reached.  [Read More]

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A Way Forward for Fire-Caused Tree Mortality Prediction: Modeling a Physiological Consequence of Fire
Pages: 80-94
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0601080

Current operational methods for predicting tree mortality from fire injury are regression-based models that only indirectly consider underlying causes and, thus, have limited generality. A better understanding of the physiological consequences of tree heating and injury are needed to develop biophysical process models that can make predictions under changing or novel conditions. As an illustration of the benefits that may arise from including physiological processes in models of fire-caused tree mortality, we develop a testable, biophysical hypothesis for explaining pervasive patterns in conifer injury and functional impairment in response to fires.  [Read More]

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First-Order Fire Effects on Herbs and Shrubs: Present Knowledge and Process Modeling Needs
Pages: 95-114
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0601095

Herbaceous plants and shrubs have received little attention in terms of fire effects modeling despite their critical role in ecosystem integrity and resilience after wildfires and prescribed burns. In this paper, we summarize current knowledge of direct effects of fire on herb and shrub (including cacti) vegetative tissues and seed banks, propose key components for process-based modeling, and outline research needs. Most herbs and shrubs are likely to be killed or top-killed even in low intensity surface fires. Therefore, modeling efforts should focus on mortality of protected above and below ground meristematic tissue and seeds as well as the effects on seed germination.  [Read More]

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First-Order Fire Effects Models for Land Management: Overview and Issues
Pages: 131-150
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0601131

We give an overview of the science application process at work in supporting fire management. First-order fire effects models, such as those discussed in accompanying papers, are the building blocks of software systems designed for application to landscapes over time scales from days to centuries. Fire effects may be modeled using empirical, rule based, or process approaches. Fire effects software systems can be used to conduct risk assessments, develop prescriptions for fuel treatments or prescribed fire, or support long-term planning.  [Read More]

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