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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Hagar Hecht; Daniel J. Krofcheck; Dennis Carril; Matthew D. Hurteau
Publication Date: 2024

Historically, fire has been essential in Southwestern US forests. However, a century of fire-exclusion and changing climate created forests which are more susceptible to uncharacteristically severe wildfires. Forest managers use a combination of thinning and prescribed burning to reduce forest density to help mitigate the risk of high-severity fires. These treatments are laborious and expensive, therefore optimizing their impact is crucial. Landscape simulation models can be useful in identifying high risk areas and assessing treatment effects, but uncertainties in these models can limit their utility in decision making. In this study we examined underlying uncertainties in the initial vegetation layer by leveraging a previous study from the Santa Fe fireshed and using new inventory plots from 111 stands to interpolate the initial forest conditions. We found that more inventory plots resulted in a different geographic distribution and wider range of the modelled biomass. This changed the location of areas with high probability of high-severity fires, shifting the optimal location for management. The increased range of biomass variability from using a larger number of plots to interpolate the initial vegetation layer also influenced ecosystem carbon dynamics, resulting in simulated forest conditions that had higher rates of carbon uptake. We conclude that the initial forest layer significantly affects fire and carbon dynamics and is dependent on both number of plots, and sufficient representation of the range of forest types and biomass density.

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Citation: Hecht, Hagar; Krofcheck, Dan J.; Carril, Dennis; Hurteau, Matthew D. 2024. Estimating the influence of field inventory sampling intensity on forest landscape model performance for determining high-severity wildfire risk. Scientific Reports 14:3073.

Cataloging Information

  • fire severity
  • forest ecology
  • forestry
  • natural hazards
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 69072