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Fire Ecology, 2014
Volume 10, Issue 2

Changes in Severity Distribution after Subsequent Fires on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
Authors: Valentijn Hoff, Casey C. Teske, James P. Riddering, LLoyd P. Queen, Eric G. Gdula, and Windy A. Bunn
Pages: 48-63
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.1002048

Understanding the distribution of fire severity patches across a landscape is of critical importance to managers and researchers. Of particular interest are those areas that burn multiple times. Understanding the complexity of these “multiple entry, mixed severity” patches is an important component of managing the landscape. We investigated the role that initial fire severity might play on subsequent fire severity (for a given re-burned area) to assess whether high severity patch distribution was impacted by initial burn conditions. In our study area, the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, USA, the fire severity patch distribution of one fire had little influence on the fire severity distribution of a subsequent fire and second entry severity patches were distributed on top of the first entry severity patches in a close to random distribution. Of all areas that burned twice between 2000 and 2011 on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, 48 % burned with equal severity, 26 % burned with a lower severity, and 26 % burned with a higher severity in the second fire. The majority of the agreement can be attributed to a similarity in the proportions of each severity class and not to a match in the spatial allocation of the equal severity patches on first and second entry fires. The distribution of high severity patches showed little change when comparing post-first entry and post-second entry distributions. The mean and the standard deviation of the high severity patch size did not change after a second fire entry. The total area of high severity did increase; this was due to both the addition of new patches as well the growth of existing patches. These findings can help to inform land managers about the roles that fire-on-fire events play on the landscape and how those interactions may impact management goals and decisions.

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