WildFIRE PIRE: Fire, climate, and land-use interactions in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.



Fire is an important natural disturbance in forested ecosystems around the world and serves as a critical but poorly understood link between climate change and biosphere response.  In recent decades, drought, land-cover alteration, and non-native plant invasions have altered natural fire regimes at an alarming rate, and in the process, threatened native biodiversity and human well-being.  WildFIRE PIRE utilizes the similarities and contrasts in fire, climate, and land-use interactions in Australia, New Zealand, and the US as a platform for integrated fire-science research.  State-of-the-art field, laboratory, and modeling tools will be used to reconstruct past and current fire regimes in multiple watersheds and increase understanding of regional and hemispheric fire-climate linkages and land-use feedbacks.  By bringing together fire disciplines that do not usually collaborate and utilizing the contrasts and similarities of the study regions, we expect to gain insights not possible in one region with a single approach.

Educational activities in WildFIRE PIRE range from undergraduate internships to graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.  Team-taught courses, online discussions, and themed video materials will be developed and made available to academic institutions, government agencies, and NGOs.  Young filmmakers will extend outreach through popular science and natural-history web platforms.  International scientific workshops will help train students and professionals in fire science, global change, and land management.  The project will provide the science support necessary to guide current and future land-use decisions; develop lasting international scientific partnerships; create international education experiences for US students; contribute to global paleofire databases; and promote diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines. 

WildFIRE PIRE official webpage

Contact Dr. Whitlock for graduate research opportunities in the WildFIRE PIRE project: whitlock@montana.edu.