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Drought-induced canopy collapse triggers increased fuel loadings: implications for fire behaviour in a Mediterranean-type eucalyptus forest.

Ruthrof, K., Fontaine, J., Hardy, G. and Matusick, G. (2014) Drought-induced canopy collapse triggers increased fuel loadings: implications for fire behaviour in a Mediterranean-type eucalyptus forest. In: Sustaining Forests, Sustaining People: The Role of Research XXIV IUFRO World Congress, 5 - 11 October, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Abstract

Drought and heat-induced forest dieback have recently been reported from a wide range of forest types globally. Flow-on effects of such dieback events and their interaction with subsequent processes is receiving increasing interest. One key impact may be elevated fine fuel loads, which drive increased intensity and severity of fire. In order to determine changes in the fuel complexes following a widespread, drought-induced canopy dieback event in the Northern Jarrah Forest (NJF), southwestern Australia, we quantified surface fi ne fuel loading in severely-affected and minimally-affected forest areas. Sixteen months following the dieback event, severely affected plots had significantly higher fuel loadings (1hr fuels) than areas minimally affected by the dieback event. Total fuels were greater in severely affected areas. These are expected to increase as trees fall. This study has added to the work describing the impact of drought-induced canopy dieback events by reporting changes in fuel complexes. With climate projections for many regions of the world, such as those for southwestern Australia, suggestive of increasing aridity and temperatures, it is critical that we increase our understanding of the effects of, and responses to, drought-induced canopy dieback events in forest ecosystems

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/33399
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