46011fire1 - Fire as an Ecological Factor 1 Some of the...

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Fire as an Ecological Factor 1. Some of the possible relevance of fire is self-evident. What is not so apparent is that fire is not just a human-induced anomaly but, in certain environments, fire is a recurrent natural phenomenon. Places having an abundant, combustible supply of plant material, a means of ignition (such as lightning or various human activities in more recent evolutionary time), suitable climatic conditions (e.g., seasonally dry conditions, wind), and a terrain which is not too irregular are especially likely to experience fire. Types of fire-prone ecosystems include temperate and tropical grasslands, savannas, boreal and montane coniferous forests, and mediterranean-type shrublands. 2. Fires can be described in various ways: a. Surface fires are comparatively low-intensity fires moving quickly over the soil surface, while crown fires sweep through the forest canopy, leaving much more widespread effects. Ground fires burn into the organic matter of the soil and leave especially longterm effects. These are only likely to occur in areas having histosols or soils with an especially thick O horizon. b. Head fires are driven by the wind, while back fires move against prevailing winds. c. Natural fires are seen as due to non-human causes, most usually lightning strikes. Human- caused fires might be inappropriate and in need of immediate attention, or they might be prescribed, in which case, they are planned and carefully controlled for some management purpose. d. Fire is obviously hot, but sometimes there is a distinction between “hot” fires and “cool” fires.
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This note was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course BOT 460 taught by Professor Clambey during the Fall '11 term at ND State.

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46011fire1 - Fire as an Ecological Factor 1 Some of the...

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