Full Citation: Iniguez, Jose M.; Swetnam, Thomas W.; Baisan, Christopher H. 2009. Spatially and temporally variable fire regime on Rincon Reak, Arizona, USA. Fire Ecology 5(1):3-21.
External Identifier(s): 10.4996/fireecology.0501003 Digital Object Identifier
Location: Rincon Peak, AZ, U.S.
Ecosystem types: Sky islands; ponderosa pine ecosystems; dry mixed-conifer ecosystems; piñyon-juniper/chaparral
Southwest FireCLIME Keywords: None
FRAMES Keywords: fire regimes, fuel continuity, southern Arizona forests, landscape fire history, Rincon Peak

Spatially and temporally variable fire regime on Rincon Peak, Arizona, USA

Jose M. Iniguez, Thomas W. Swetnam, Christopher H. Baisan


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

Publication findings:

Fires prior to 1763 were synchronous with region-wide fire years, which coincided with periods of drought. However, after 1763, fires on the peak became asynchronous to widespread-fire years throughout the region. The authors suggest that when this occurs, bottom-up factors may have become more important in controlling the spread of fire. Specifically, Rincon Peak is isolated and surrounded by talus slopes and rock outcrops. However, they also hypothesized that a variation on ENSO, the late 18th-- early 19th century transition period (LEENT) may have occurred at this time, lengthening the fire-free interval. The LEENT period decreased the ENSO signal and limited the wet/dry oscillations and therefore the cycles of high fuel production followed by drought, hence increased flammability, for an extended period. The author’s findings suggest that isolated sky island ponderosa pine forests may be especially susceptible to climate change and drought because of their separation from the larger landscape and the frequent fire regimes that regulate severity in these ecosystems.

Climate and Fire Linkages

Fires prior to 1763 were synchronous with region-wide fire years, which coincided with periods of drought. However, after 1763, fires on the peak became asynchronous to widespread-fire years throughout the region. The authors suggest that when this occurs, bottom-up factors may have become more important in controlling the spread of fire. Specifically, Rincon Peak is isolated and surrounded by talus slopes and rock outcrops. However, they also hypothesized that a variation on ENSO, the late 18th-- early 19th century transition period (LEENT) may have occurred at this time, lengthening the fire-free interval. The LEENT period decreased the ENSO signal and limited the wet/dry oscillations and therefore the cycles of high fuel production followed by drought, hence increased flammability, for an extended period. The author’s findings suggest that isolated sky island ponderosa pine forests may be especially susceptible to climate change and drought because of their separation from the larger landscape and the frequent fire regimes that regulate severity in these ecosystems.

Fire and Ecosystem Effects Linkages

The author’s findings suggest that isolated sky island ponderosa pine forests may be especially susceptible to climate change and drought because of their separation from the larger landscape and the frequent fire regimes that regulate severity in these ecosystems.