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Ecology of Wildfire Residuals in Boreal Forests

  • ID: 2882906
  • Book
  • September 2014
  • 272 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Large and intense wildfires are integral to the globally important boreal forest biome. While much is known about boreal wildfires, the focus on forest remnants that either escape or survive these intense fires is a recent phenomenon: academics now study ecological processes of wildfire residuals, forest policymakers use their patterns to design harvest strategies, forest managers consider their economic value, and conservationists recognize their intrinsic ecological importance. 

Ecology of Wildfire Residuals in Boreal Forests is the first book to explore ecological patterns and processes of what does not burn within boreal wildfires. Following a brief introduction to the boreal forest biome, it discusses the processes that form wildfire residuals; how they are studied, with various approaches and methods; the types, extent, and ecological functions of wildfire residuals; and their role in forest management applications, all in the context of ecological scale. 

This book is a reference for researchers and graduate students studying boreal forest ecology, as well as for policymakers and forest managers. It adopts a non–reductionist perspective that will be of interest to scientists from conservation science, forest ecology, forest management, and timber production. 

  • Brings together fire behaviour, ecological scale, vegetation ecology, and conservation biology to provide a cross disciplinary, multi–scale, and an integrative discussion of forest fire residuals
  • Captures the state of knowledge with a meta–analysis of research trends during the past few decades, with a comprehensive review of the literature, a compilation of key references, and a list of key topics relevant to the study of boreal wildfire residuals
  • Identifies the major gaps and uncertainties in the present body of knowledge, including a critique of study techniques and reporting practices to date,  and proposes a set of terms  and definitions and a list of research questions and priorities
  • Includes the authors observations and research experience from boreal Canada, and information extracted from interactions with North American and European ecologists, forest managers, and conservationists
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Acknowledgments xi

About the companion website xiii

1 Introduction 1

The boreal forest biome 2

Geographical distribution 4

Distinguishing features 6

Boreal wildfires 9

Major characteristics 9

Ecological significance 11

Goals and scope of the book 12

References 14

2 Formation of wildfire residuals 18

Factors that affect the formation of residuals 19

Boreal forest communities 20

Boreal wildfires 31

Residual formation and distribution 40

Spatial heterogeneity in fire behavior 41

Process of residual formation 44

Summary 59

References 61

3 Types of wildfire residuals and their extent 65

Types of wildfire residuals 66

A post–wildfire scene 66

Past descriptions of wildfire residuals 71

Abundance and extent of wildfire residuals 79

Snag residuals 80

Live tree residuals 81

Residual patches 84

Changes in residuals after wildfires 88

Snag residuals 88

Live tree residuals 89

Residual patches 92

Toward improved definitions and assessment 93

Reasons for improvement 93

Definitions of wildfire residuals 95

Improved study approaches 103

Summary 107

References 113

4 Ecological roles of wildfire residuals 119

Ecological processes involving snag residuals 121

Invasion by beetles 121

Colonization by woodpeckers 132

Occupation by other bird species 140

Forest regeneration 142

Roles of the residual patches 148

Providing temporary shelter 149

Supplementing the recovery 151

Creating heterogeneity 161

Ecological significance 161

Wildfire residuals and the carbon cycle 162

Wildfire residuals and nutrient and hydrological cycles 165

Summary 168

References 173

5 Role of wildfire residuals in forest management applications 184

Restoring wildfire residuals 185

Ecological expectations 186

Considerations for application 187

Challenges and uncertainties 190

Emulating wildfire disturbance 191

Background 191

Emulating wildfire residuals by forest harvest 193

Expectations and uncertainties 197

Salvage logging 202

Background 202

Ecological consequences 204

Practical considerations 212

Uncertainties 217

Summary 220

References 222

6 Ecology of boreal wildfire residuals a summary and synthesis 227

Wildfire residuals and their occurrence 227

Residual vegetation types 228

Spatial patterns of residuals 231

Ecological roles of wildfire residuals 235

Snag residuals 235

Residual patches 236

A conceptual view 237

Knowledge uncertainties 239

Management applications and wildfire residuals 240

Salvage logging 240

Emulating wildfire disturbances 240

Restoring wildfire residuals 242

Suppressing fire 243

Research needs on wildfire residuals 243

Advancing research methods 243

Expanding research topics 244

Conclusion 245

Index 247

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Ajith Perera
Lisa Buse
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