In our previous article (Odion and Hanson, Ecosystems 9:1177–89, 2006), we reported that fire severity in the conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, contrary to prevailing assumptions, did not burn with predominately stand-replacing, high severity fire. The reply by Safford and others (Ecosystems, this issue) using a new mapping approach also found this pattern. Their methods identify more high severity fire; however, as we illustrate here, this may be attributed to the different mapping approaches used. We previously also found that condition class based upon fire return interval departure (FRID) was not an effective predictor of fire severity. Safford and others (this issue) concluded that there was a strong correlation between FRID-based condition class and fire severity based upon data from the McNally fire of 2002. The difference between these findings about McNally fire reflects the fact that they combined FRID categories whereas we kept the categories separate. Here, using their fire severity data to evaluate all three fires, we found that severity was not predicted by FRID. Developing a consensus definition of fire severity within the scientific community might help alleviate future contradictions regarding fire effects.
BAER conifer forests condition class FRID fire severity mapping methods