Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 8, pp 1543–1552 | Cite as

Alternative characterization of forest fire regimes: incorporating spatial patterns

  • Brandon M. Collins
  • Jens T. Stevens
  • Jay D. Miller
  • Scott L. Stephens
  • Peter M. Brown
  • Malcolm P. North
Short Communication



The proportion of fire area that experienced stand-replacing fire effects is an important attribute of individual fires and fire regimes in forests, and this metric has been used to group forest types into characteristic fire regimes. However, relying on proportion alone ignores important spatial characteristics of stand-replacing patches, which can have a strong influence on post-fire vegetation dynamics.


We propose a new more ecologically relevant approach for characterizing spatial patterns of stand-replacing patches to account for potential limitation of conifer seed dispersal.


We applied a simple modified logistic function to describe the relationship between the proportion of total stand-replacing patch area and an interior buffer distance on stand-replacing patches.


This approach robustly distinguishes among different spatial configurations of stand-replacing area in both theoretical and actual fires, and does so uniquely from commonly used descriptors of spatial configuration.


Our function can be calculated for multiple fires over a given area, allowing for meaningful ecological comparisons of stand-replacing effects among different fires and regions.


Stand replacing patches High severity Fire severity Fire ecology 



Many of the ideas that spawned this work originated on a fire science retreat led by Hugh Safford and Christina Restaino, which was partially supported by the USDA Forest Service and the California Fire Science Consortium. This work was also supported by a research partnership between the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources (Project No. 16-JV-11272167-063).

Supplementary material

10980_2017_528_MOESM1_ESM.docx (267 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 266 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brandon M. Collins
    • 1
  • Jens T. Stevens
    • 2
  • Jay D. Miller
    • 3
  • Scott L. Stephens
    • 2
  • Peter M. Brown
    • 4
  • Malcolm P. North
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for Fire Research and OutreachUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Ecosystem Sciences Division, Department of Environmental Science Policy and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, Fire and Aviation ManagementMcClellanUSA
  4. 4.Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring ResearchFort CollinsUSA
  5. 5.USDA Forest ServicePacific Southwest Research StationDavisUSA
  6. 6.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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