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Spatial modelling of "alternative" future landscapes under climate change and fire suppression, Mont Do, New Caledonia

Perry, G.L.W. and Enright, N.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505 (2004) Spatial modelling of "alternative" future landscapes under climate change and fire suppression, Mont Do, New Caledonia. Pacific Conservation Biology, 9 (4). pp. 248-264.


The vegetation dynamics and disturbance regimes of the south-west Pacific have been significantly altered following human settlement. Previously forested landscapes are now dominated by a matrix of flammable early successional vegetation within which patches of mesic, fire-sensitive forest are embedded. Future environmental change, and in particular climate change, will further affect disturbance regimes in these ecosystems. If ignition frequency and fire extent increase, then the persistence of these landscapes in their current composition and structure is uncertain. Using a spatially explicit landscape ecological model, we explored the implications of climatically altered fire regimes for landscape composition and structure in a mountain-top reserve in New Caledonia. The outcomes of the modeling suggest that increased ignition probability and vegetation flammability would lead to a maquis (heathland)-dominated landscape structurally simpler than that seen today. The feasibility of fire suppression as a means of managing altered fire regimes was explored using a series of model experiments. Fire suppression has been problematic in some systems, especially those where fire hazard increases over time. However, in this ecosystem, and others in the south-west Pacific, it may be a viable alternative for managing fire because fire hazard, in terms of flammability, peaks early in the succession and then decreases over successional time.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Surey Beatty & Sons
Copyright: © Surey Beatty & Sons
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