Landscape Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 227–240 | Cite as

Spatial models for inferring topographic controls on historical low-severity fire in the eastern Cascade Range of Washington, USA

  • Lara-Karena B. Kellogg
  • Donald McKenzie
  • David L. Peterson
  • Amy E. Hessl
Research Article


Fire regimes are complex systems that represent an aggregate of spatial and temporal events whose statistical properties are scale dependent. Despite the breadth of research regarding the spatial controls on fire regime variability, few datasets are available with sufficient resolution to test spatially explicit hypotheses. We used a spatially distributed network of georeferenced fire-scarred trees to investigate the spatial structure of fire occurrence at multiple scales. Mantel’s tests and geostatistical analysis of fire-occurrence time series led to inferences about the mechanisms that generated spatial patterns of historical fire synchrony (multiple trees recording fire in a single year) in eastern Washington, USA. The spatial autocorrelation structure of historical fire regimes varied within and among sites, with clearer patterns in the complex rugged terrain of the Cascade Range than in more open and rolling terrain further north and east. Results illustrate that the statistical spatial characteristics of fire regimes change with landform characteristics within a forest type, suggesting that simple relationships between fire frequency, fire synchrony, and forest type do not exist. Quantifying the spatial structures in fire occurrence associated with topographic variation showed that fire regime variability depends on both landscape structure and the scale of measurement. Spatially explicit fire-scar data open new possibilities for analysis and interpretation, potentially informing the design and application of fire management on landscapes, including hazardous fuel treatments and the use of fire for ecosystem restoration.


Topographic controls Historical fire regimes Spatial statistics Eastern Washington Scale dependence 



This paper is dedicated to the memory of Lara-Karena Kellogg. She was orders of magnitude larger than life and continues to inspire us in both our work and our daily lives. We thank Robert Norheim for help with cartography and Marie-Josée Fortin and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Research was supported by the Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, and by an award from the Joint Fire Sciences Program (No. 01-1-6-01) under a cooperative agreement between the USDA Forest Service and the University of Washington (PNW 02-CA-11261987-071).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lara-Karena B. Kellogg
    • 1
  • Donald McKenzie
    • 2
  • David L. Peterson
    • 2
  • Amy E. Hessl
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Forest ResourcesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences LabUSDA Forest ServiceSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geology and GeographyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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