Fire Ecology, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 1
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. Fire effects on shrub and grassland systems are particularly poorly studied. Recent advances in software systems, in which multiple models and databases are included in a single application tailored to address fire management questions, give impetus to foundational fire effects research that would improve fire effects prediction. In this introduction, we describe the range of approaches to predicting fire effects, from statistical to process; we define terminology used throughout the issue; and we highlight research and development needs. We offer the following goal as a challenge to the research community: the development of a comprehensive, first-order fire effects model employing a diversity of approaches (from statistical to process) and built to serve a range of applications (from research to land management).