Spatial variation in fire frequency in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): Donald McKenzie; David L. Peterson; James K. Agee
Editor(s): Leon F. Neuenschwander; Kevin C. Ryan; Greg E. Gollberg
Publication Year: 2000

Cataloging Information

  • Cascades Range
  • Columbia River basin
  • coniferous forests
  • COV - Dominant Cover Type
  • cover
  • cover type
  • Cupressaceae
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • elevation
  • FHDB - Fire History Database
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire return interval
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • geography
  • GIS - geographic information system
  • histories
  • Idaho
  • JFSP - Joint Fire Science Program
  • landscape ecology
  • Montana
  • mountains
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • overstory
  • pine forests
  • Pinus albicaulis
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • PNV - Potential Natural Vegetation
  • precipitation
  • rivers
  • RSAs (Realizations in the Sensitivity Analysis)
  • statistical analysis
  • succession
  • topography
  • Tsuga mertensiana
  • Tsuga spp.
  • understory vegetation
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 15, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 44219
Tall Timbers Record Number: 19547
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


We developed multiple regression models and tree-based (CART -- classification and regression tree) models to predict fire return intervals across the Interior Columbia River basin at 1-km resolution, using geo-referenced fire history potential vegetation, cover type, and precipitation databases. We weighted the models based on data quality and performed a sensitivity analysis of the effects on the models of estimation errors due to lack of crossdating. The regression models predict fire return intervals from 1 to 375 years for forested areas, whereas the tree-based models predict a range of 8 to 150 years. Both types of models predict latitudinal and elevational gradients of increasing fire return intervals. Although the tree-based models explain more of the variation in the original data, the regression models are less likely to produce extrapolation errors. Thus, the models serve complementary purposes in elucidating the relationships among fire frequency, the predictor variables, and spatial scale. They also demonstrate the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods, and can be updated as better fire history data become available.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (1.3 MB; pdf)
McKenzie, D., D. L. Peterson, and J. K. Agee. 2000. Spatial variation in fire frequency in the Interior Columbia River Basin. Pages 257-263 in Neuenschwander, L. F., K. C. Ryan, and G. E. Gollberg (editors), Joint Fire Science Conference and Workshop Proceedings: 'Crossing the Millennium: Integrating Spatial Technologies and Ecological Principles for a New Age in Fire Management', June 15-17, 1999, The Grove Hotel, Boise, Idaho; Volume II. Moscow, ID and Fairfield, WA, University of Idaho and the International Association of Wildland Fire. 312 p.