Skip to main content

Resource Catalog


Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Olga Speck; Thomas Speck
Publication Date: 2024

Wildfires are unplanned conflagrations perceived as a threat by humans. However, fires are essential for the survival of fire-adapted plants. On the one hand, wildfires cause major damage worldwide, burning large areas of forests and landscapes, threatening towns and villages, and generating high levels of air pollution. On the other hand, fire-adapted plants (pyrophytes) in the fire landscapes of the Earth are able to survive exposure to heat (e.g., because of their thick bark, which protects their living tissue) and benefit from fire directly (e.g., fire initiates cone opening and seed release) or indirectly (e.g., fewer competing plants of fire-sensitive species remain, seeds germinate in the ash-fertilized soil). We present the experimental set-up and results of a fire experiment on bark samples used as a basis to assess the fire tolerance of various trees. Fire tolerance is defined as the ability of a tree to survive a surface fire (up to 200 °C and 5 min duration). The measure of the fire tolerance for a tree species is the time taken for the vascular cambium under the insulating bark to reach the critical temperature of 60 °C. Within an educational module, we provide worksheets for teachers and students enabling them to analyze the fire tolerance of various tree barks.

Online Links
Citation: Speck, Olga; Speck, Thomas. 2024. Is a forest fire a natural disaster? Investigating the fire tolerance of various tree species - an educational module. Biomimetics 9(2):114.

Cataloging Information

International    National    Alaska    California    Eastern    Great Basin    Hawaii    Northern Rockies    Northwest    Rocky Mountain    Southern    Southwest
  • educational guide
  • fire tolerance
  • pyrophytes
  • tree bark
  • tree survival
  • wildfires
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 69161