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Fire Ecology, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 1

Modeling spatial patterns of fuels and fire behavior in a longleaf pine forest in the southeastern USA
Authors: Diane K. Kennard and Kenneth W. Outcalt
Pages: 31-52
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0201031

Characterizing spatial patterns of fire behavior is an important and rarely considered means of understanding patterns of vegetation recovery following a fire event. Using geostatistics, we characterized spatial patterns of pre-burn fuel loads, fire temperature and duration during prescribed burns, and post-burn fuel loads in four longleaf pine stands in the southeastern USA. Fire temperatures exhibited moderate to strong spatial dependence over medium spatial scales. Variograms suggest that 61-99% of sample population variance was spatially dependent at scales of 27-157 m. Patterns of pre-burn fuel loads were only moderately related to patterns of mean fire temperature, confirming that fuel loads alone cannot predict fire patchiness. Other fuel parameters and microscale changes in wind and relative humidity likely influenced patterns of fire intensity as well. Strength and scale of fuel load spatial patterns were altered by fire as indicated by pre- and post-burn measurements. Spatial analysis provides a useful way to quantify burn patchiness and can help to identify which patch size may be desirable for different management goals. Studies that examine fire effects need to recognize spatial autocorrelation when characterizing fire behavior and account for this variation at appropriate scales.

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