Influences of previous wildfires on change, resistance, and resilience to reburning in a montane southwestern landscape
The authors used non-metric multidimensional scaling to assess how time-since-fire and burn severity of a previous fire affected the severity of patches on the Las Conchas fire, and how vegetation patterns changed following the fire.
The authors found that previous wildfires generally reduced the severity of a subsequent fire. This effect, however, diminished with increasing time-since-fire. Furthermore, those fire perimeters that had not been burned recently prior to the Las Conchas fire exhibited the larges changes in community composition whereas those fire perimeters that reburned showed reduced impacts of fire on the vegetation communities. Prior to the Las Conchas fire, the vegetation in the recently burned communities had reduced canopy cover, and higher cover of shrubs and grasses.
The authors suggest that wildfire can act as a fuel treatment by reducing the severity of subsequent fire and increasing vegetation recovery, but in high-frequency/low-severity fire-adapted ecosystems, increases in the frequency of high severity fire may lead to changes in vegetation of forested sites to alternative communities.