Fire is a dominant ecological process affecting individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems worldwide. Simply put, if you want to understand the ecology of most terrestrial ecosystems, you must understand the role that fire plays in the system. Fire is also a useful tool and tightly linked to human values of natural resources, stability and predictability, and safety and property. The role of fire in ecosystems is thus often controversial, and balancing goals can be difficult. Understanding the scientific processes and the science of fire ecology is key to developing and implementing sound management approaches. Throughout this course we will study fire through the following perspectives and topics:
How do physical and biological processes interact to determine when, where, and how fires burn across a landscape? How do changes in biophysical components affect the pattern of fire over years, decades, and centuries?
How does fire interact with other biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem? How are organisms, communities, and landscapes affected by fire?
How can we quantify the role that fire plays over different spatial and temporal scales? How does this role vary through time, and what does this imply about the future?
How does a scientific understanding of fire ecology inform land management policies and practices? What does fire science suggest about controversial management issues such as fuels treatments, salvage logging, and fire suppression?
By the end of this course, students should be able to: