Multiple disturbance interactions and drought influence fire severity in rocky mountain subalpine forests
The authors studied the effects of past disturbances, specifically beetle outbreak and extreme drought, on the spatial variability of fire severity.
Stands affected by beetle outbreak burned at higher severities and more often than expected, although forest cover type and vegetation were stronger predictors of severity than previous disturbance or elevation. Furthermore, the authors point to other studies in nearby stands that did not see a relationship between fire and beetle outbreaks. They suggest that beetle outbreaks followed by extreme drought, as occurred prior to the fire in the study, or wind are required to increase the flammability of the large, dead fuels, resulting in increased fire severity.