Full Citation: Arkle, Robert S.; Pilliod, David S.; Welty, Justin L. 2012. Pattern and process of prescribed fires influence effectiveness at reducing wildfire severity in dry coniferous forests. Forest Ecology and Management 276:174-184.
External Identifier(s): 10.1016/j.foreco.2012.03.026 Digital Object Identifier
Location: Payette National Forest, Idaho, U.S.
Ecosystem types: Mixed-conifer ecosystem
Southwest FireCLIME Keywords: None
FRAMES Keywords: crown fires, fire intensity, fire size, heat, ladder fuels, LANDFIRE, rate of spread, season of fire, surface fuels, wildfires, GIS - geographic information system, national forests, overstory, remote sensing, soil moisture, Pinus contorta, ponderosa pine, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir, Idaho, fire management, forest management, landscape ecology, coniferous forests, grasslands, shrublands, sloping terrain, burn severity, dNBR - differenced (or delta) Normalized Burn Ratio, landscape-context, mixed conifer forest, landscape context, NPMR - nonparametric multiplicative regression

Pattern and process of prescribed fires influence effectiveness at reducing wildfire severity in dry coniferous forests

Robert S. Arkle, David S. Pilliod, Justin L. Welty


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

This article examines the relationship between vegetation and topography on prescribed fire severity and the effects on subsequent wildfire.


Publication findings:

Prescribed fire reduced the severity of subsequent wildfire compared to untreated areas suggesting that prescribed fire is an effective treatment to reduce fuel loads and high severity fire in dry mixed conifer ecosystems. Pre-treatment vegetation volume, heat load, and prescribed fire burn severity were all significantly related to the severity of the subsequent wildfire; however, the interactions between these variables were complex. But, higher severities in the prescribed fire were more effective at reducing fire severity in the following wildfire.

The authors also found that landscape context of the burn strongly influenced wildfire severities. Fire severity was lower further inside contiguous patches of burned area and increased with increasing distance from the center of the disturbance. The authors suggest that fire size and burn continuity may be more important in reducing subsequent fire severity than the severity of the prescribed fire.

Fire and Ecosystem Effects Linkages

The authors suggest that fire size and burn continuity may be more important in reducing subsequent fire severity than the severity of the prescribed fire.

Prescribed fire reduced the severity of subsequent wildfire compared to untreated areas suggesting that prescribed fire is an effective treatment to reduce fuel loads and high severity fire in dry mixed conifer ecosystems. Pre-treatment vegetation volume, heat load, and prescribed fire burn severity were all significantly related to the severity of the subsequent wildfire; however, the interactions between these variables were complex. But, higher severities in the prescribed fire were more effective at reducing fire severity in the following wildfire.

The authors also found that landscape context of the burn strongly influenced wildfire severities. Fire severity was lower further inside contiguous patches of burned area and increased with increasing distance from the center of the disturbance. The authors suggest that fire size and burn continuity may be more important in reducing subsequent fire severity than the severity of the prescribed fire.

The authors found that landscape context of the burn strongly influenced wildfire severities. Fire severity was lower further inside contiguous patches of burned area and increased with increasing distance from the center of the disturbance. The authors suggest that fire size and burn continuity may be more important in reducing subsequent fire severity than the severity of the prescribed fire.