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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Istvan Karsai; Byron Roland; George Kampis
Publication Date: 2016

Our model considers a new element in forest fire modeling, namely the dynamics of a forest animal, intimately linked to the trees. We show that animals and trees react differently to different types of fire. A high probability of fire initiation results in several small fires, which do not allow for a large fuel accumulation and thus the destruction of many trees by fire, but is found to be generally devastating to the animal population at the same time. On the other hand, a low fire initiation probability allows for the accumulation of higher quantities of fuel, which in turn results in larger fires, more devastating to the trees than to the animals. Thus, we suggest that optimal fire management should take into account the relation between fire initiation and its different effects on animals and trees. Further, wildfires are often considered as prime examples for power-law-like frequency distributions, yet there is no agreement on the mechanisms responsible for the observed patterns. Our model suggests that instead of a single unified distribution, a superposition of at least two different distributions can be detected and this suggests multiform mechanisms acting on different scales. None of the discovered distributions are compatible with the power-law hypothesis.

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Citation: Karsai, Istvan; Roland, Byron; Kampis, George. 2016. The effect of fire on an abstract forest ecosystem: an agent based study. Ecological Complexity 28:12-23.

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  • agent-based modeling
  • dynamics
  • ecological interactions
  • forest fire
  • power law
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 24138