The Role of Fire in Forest Ecosystems

Authored by: David F. Greene , Sean T. Michaletz

Routledge Handbook of Forest Ecology

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415735452
eBook ISBN: 9781315818290
Adobe ISBN: 9781317816447


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Natural disturbance not only kills plants and animals but also makes resources available for subsequent cohorts. Consequently, it plays a decisive role in births and deaths of individuals and is the major arbiter of demography. In this chapter, we review recent advances in our understanding of the processes linking climate, fire behavior, and fire effects on plants and animals. More specifically, we examine the ecological patterns that emerge from a coupling of fire behavior, physiology, and demographic processes. For example, fire effects on vegetation can be understood by considering the mechanisms governing fire behavior, heat transfer into plants, heat injury of plant tissues, and the physiology linking tissue injuries to whole-plant growth, mortality, and reproduction (Michaletz and Johnson 2007; Michaletz et al. 2012).

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