Advancing Dendrochronological Studies of Fire in the United States

TitleAdvancing Dendrochronological Studies of Fire in the United States
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHarley, GL
Secondary AuthorsBaisan, CH
Tertiary AuthorsBrown, PM
Subsidiary Authorsal., et
Start Page11
Keywordsfire history, technical reports and journal articles

Dendroecology is the science that dates tree rings to their exact calendar year of formation to study processes that influence forest ecology (e.g., Speer 2010 [1], Amoroso et al., 2017 [2]). Reconstruction of past fire regimes is a core application of dendroecology, linking fire history to population dynamics and climate effects on tree growth and survivorship. Since the early 20th century when dendrochronologists recognized that tree rings retained fire scars (e.g., Figure 1), and hence a record of past fires, they have conducted studies worldwide to reconstruct [2] the historical range and variability of fire regimes (e.g., frequency, severity, seasonality, spatial extent), [3] the influence of fire regimes on forest structure and ecosystem dynamics, and [4] the top-down (e.g., climate) and bottom-up (e.g., fuels, topography) drivers of fire that operate at a range of temporal and spatial scales. As in other scientific fields, continued application of dendrochronological techniques to study fires has shaped new trajectories for the science. Here we highlight some important current directions in the United States (US) and call on our international colleagues to continue the conversation with perspectives from other countries.