A systematic review of relationships between mountain wildfire and ecosystem services
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Jelena Vukomanovic; Toddi A. Steelman
Publication Year: 2019

Cataloging Information

  • Colorado
  • cultural services
  • ecological mechanisms
  • environmental mechanisms
  • human dimension
  • intermediate services
  • landscape legacy
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
  • scales of impact
  • scales of mechanisms
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 27, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 58042


Context: Consideration of human-environment dimensions of wildfire make ecosystem services (ES) a useful framework for understanding wildfire challenges and devising viable management strategies. Scientific literature on wildfire and ES is growing rapidly, but connections are disparate and evolving. Objectives: We review relationships between mountain wildfire and a comprehensive list of 50 relevant ES informed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Our conceptual framework is used to evaluate underlying mechanisms and the direction and scale of wildfire impacts on ES. Methods: We focus the review on the Colorado Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, one of the best-studied landscapes in the world for understanding fire-ES relationships and evaluating how regional differences contribute to broader understanding of ES globally. We begin our review by considering key relationships, followed by a structured literature search of wildfire impacts with tabulated trends and findings. Results: Key findings from the review: (1) current fire regimes mostly have negative impacts on ES, with some positive effects on cultural services, (2) changes to vegetation composition and structure are the most common mechanism, (3) mechanisms acting at local and landscape scales impact ES at broader scales, (4) intermediate services warrant attention and management resources, and (5) regional differences may provide opportunities for stronger global synthesis. Conclusions: Familiarity with landscape legacies, current land use practices, and stakeholder values uniquely positions landscape ecologists to contribute to future studies of wildfire-ES connections. A framework that considers the complete suite of ES can guide researchers to seek collaborations that more completely characterize their regions.

Online Link(s):
Vukomanovic, Jelena; Steelman, Toddi A. 2019. A systematic review of relationships between mountain wildfire and ecosystem services. Landscape Ecology 34(5):1179-1194.