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Modeling mechanisms of vegetation change due to fire in a semi-arid ecosystem

J. D. White, K. J. Gutzwiller, W. C. Barrow, L. J. Randall, P. Swint


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

The authors created and tested the accuracy of a model called the Landscape and Fire Simulator that simulates changes in vegetation cover due to fire disturbance for semi-arid landscapes.

Publication findings:

Historically, frequent fire maintained open grasslands across the semi-arid desert. However, fire cessation has allowed for shrub encroachment, and consequently, a reduction in grass and contiguous fuels. The model predicted only 4% of the landscape to burn over the 50 year simulations. The authors suggest that future fire events may have minimal impact on moving the current ecosystem, which is dominated by woody shrubs, back to a grassland state.

Fire and Ecosystem Effects Linkages

Historically, frequent fire maintained open grasslands across the semi-arid desert. However, fire cessation has allowed for shrub encroachment, and consequently, a reduction in grass and contiguous fuels. The model predicted only 4% of the landscape to burn over the 50 year simulations. The authors suggest that future fire events may have minimal impact on moving the current ecosystem, which is dominated by woody shrubs, back to a grassland state.