What will you learn?
This presentation introduces a new line of research in our laboratory; one examining the role that nonforest plays in the wildfire resilience of inland montane forests. In past work, we were consistently surprised by the amount of nonforest (grasslands-shrublands-sparse woodlands-bare ground) we encountered in reconstructions of early 20th century forest landscapes. Now, we take a closer look at the provincial abundance and distribution of nonforest and its potential relevance.
Theory and empirical studies confirm that forest landscapes of the historical western US were hierarchically organized, and there were cross-connections between levels. At fine-scales, patches were often composed of clumped and gapped trees, which nested within meso-scale forest successional landscapes, which themselves nested within broad-scale patchworks of nonforest. Here, we take a closer look at those linkages, and changes to them. What was the structure within nonforest patchworks, and what was the nature of the cross-connection with forests? Obtaining a better understanding of these relationships potentially provides two important clues. It can provide a clearer idea of the structure and organization of landscape resilience, and it can foreshadow what we can expect with changes in the regional climate.
Presenter: Paul Hessburg, Research Landscape Ecologist with the USDA-FS, PNW Research Station.