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History and Future of Fire in Hardwood and Conifer Forests of the Great Lakes-Northeastern Forest Region, USA

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Fire Ecology and Management: Past, Present, and Future of US Forested Ecosystems

Part of the book series: Managing Forest Ecosystems ((MAFE,volume 39))

Abstract

The Great Lakes-Northeastern forest region from Minnesota to New England has varied climates and site conditions that allow diverse fire regimes. In the coldest, boreal forests, infrequent high-severity fires maintain jack pine forests or birch-aspen-spruce-fir-forests. Moderately frequent, mixed-severity fires maintain red/white pine forests on sites with shallow or sandy soils. Fires are least frequent in northern hardwood forests, but can interact with wind-thrown timber to cause intense fires and patches of birch-aspen forests within a late successional matrix. On sandy northern hardwood sites, moderate-severity fires regulate the balance between pines and oaks, and late successional species. Burning by Native Americans created areas of multi-aged pine and oak forests, and savannas, regardless of the fire regime that would have occurred given the climate and soil conditions. These historical fire regimes have been altered by fire exclusion, so that late successional species have gained dominance in most forest types. However, warming climate and use of prescribed fire may reverse this trend.

Ecoregions 47, Western corn belt plains; 48, Lake Agassiz plain; 49, Northern Minnesota wetlands; 50, Northern lakes and forests; 51, North central hardwoods; 52, Driftless area; 53, Southeastern Wisconsin till plains; 54, Central corn belt plains; 55, Eastern corn belt plains; 56, Southern Michigan/northern Indiana drift plains; 57, Huron/Erie lake plains; 58, Northeastern highlands; 59, Northeastern coastal zone; 60, Northern Allegheny plateau; 61, Erie drift plain; 62, North central Appalachians; 82, Acadian plains and hills; 83, Eastern Great Lakes lowlands; 84, Atlantic coastal pine barrens

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Frelich, L.E., Lorimer, C.G., Stambaugh, M.C. (2021). History and Future of Fire in Hardwood and Conifer Forests of the Great Lakes-Northeastern Forest Region, USA. In: Greenberg, C.H., Collins, B. (eds) Fire Ecology and Management: Past, Present, and Future of US Forested Ecosystems. Managing Forest Ecosystems, vol 39. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-73267-7_7

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