Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fire Burns Hotter After Absense

Reintroducing fire to long-unburned Southeastern Pine Savannas can kill the "fire dependent" Long Leaf Pine while sparing fire sensitive species that have invaded the Savanna. It seems the pines loose their adaption to fire over time. Their roots grow into the thick duff layers of pine needles they themselves produced. When a fire finally starts, either by accident or through restoration efforts, the usual wave of fast-moving "scorching" flames are followed by a second, deadly wave of smoldering fire in the deep pine duff. The duff is thickest around old pine trees so the smoldering fire preferentially kills older "fire dependent" trees.

The human health effects of smoldering fires are also much worse than open flames.

Varner et al 2005 Restoring Fire to Long-Unburned Pinus palustris Ecosystems: Novel Fire Effects and Consequences for Long-Unburned Ecosystems

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