New paper by CSP Associate Scientist Shelley Crausbay
An exploration of fire and large-scale forest impacts over the last 14,000 years identifies rapid climate changes as a key factor.
Shelley Crausbay, one of CSP’s Associate Scientists, along with colleagues from the Universities of Washington and Montana, recently published a paper in the journal Ecology on the role of fire in shaping the composition and structure of lowland forests in the Pacific Northwest. The team looked at stand-scale paleorecords of vegetation and fire spanning nearly 14,000 years for a forest in western Washington. This information was used to characterize the relationship between fire and rapid changes in the forest vegetation.
The study found that the forest’s resilience to fires was related to the rate at which climate changes occurred over the period of record. Resiliency was highest during times of low climate velocity. During times of high climate variability and velocity, however, fires triggered large-scale state changes, accelerating vegetation shifts.