Our lab has been focusing on flammability research for several years, beginning with collaboration with Rich Fonda (Emeritus Professor of Fire Ecology, Western Washington University). We utilize the unique Wildland Fire Lab on campus for this research.
OCLFS- Oaks of California Litter Flammability Study
Several chemical and physical mechanisms have been proposed to explain the variation in flammability among closely related species. Current efforts focus on Quercus in California, due to the high species diversity here and the high variation in oak leaf characteristics. This work feeds into our larger work on the drivers of flammability across taxa.
This research has been funded by Humboldt State University’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies. We anticipate potential National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) funding for the next two summers. For more information on this, go to: http://www.humboldt.edu/~hsureu/ .
Southern Oaks- Rethinking restoration targets for southern USA pine-oak ecosystems
Oaks and other hardwoods have long been targets for removal in southern USA pine forestry and, more recently, pineland ecosystem restoration efforts. In spite of the well-known ecological importance of native oaks, well-meaning conservation and restoration efforts have focused on killing oaks via harvest, herbicides, or by high intensity prescribed fire, all of which have secondary effects on important ecosystem processes. A major argument for oak removal has been that oaks impede fire, resulting in low-intensity fires that fail to meet management objectives.
We tested this fire-impeding hypothesis (Kane et al. 2008) with 8 co-occurring oaks from southern pinelands by burning them in the Fire Lab. We found that some oaks impede fire, while others (upland specialists) facilitate fire spread and burn with comparable intensity to the upland pines of these ecosystems.
This research has been supported by Humboldt State University and the J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center (GA).
We will be beginning a large-scale North American pine burning experiment (among others) during AY 09-10 (check back).
Fire Lab products to date (we have several other products in progress or in submission):
*Kane, J.M., J.M. Varner, and J.K. Hiers. 2008. The burning characteristics in southeastern oaks: discriminating fire facilitators from fire impeders. Forest Ecology and Management 256: 2039–2045.
Fonda, R. and J.M. Varner. 2005. Burning characteristics of cones from eight pine species. Northwest Science 78:322-333.
Images Figure 1 Pictures