Scaling Laws and Complexity in Fire Regimes

  • Donald McKenzie
  • Maureen C. Kennedy
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD)


Use of scaling terminology and concepts in ecology evolved rapidly from rare occurrences in the early 1980s to a central idea by the early 1990s (Allen and Hoekstra 1992; Levin 1992; Peterson and Parker 1998). In landscape ecology, use of “scale” frequently connotes explicitly spatial considerations (Dungan et al. 2002), notably grain and extent. More generally though, scaling refers to the systematic change of some biological variable with time, space, mass, or energy. Schneider (2001) further specifies ecological scaling sensu Calder (1983) and Peters (1983) as “the use of power laws that scale a variable (e.g., respiration) to body size, usually according to a nonintegral exponent” while noting that this is one of many equally common technical definitions. He further notes that “the concept of scale is evolving from verbal expression to quantitative expression” (p. 545), and will continue to do so as mathematical theory matures along with quantitative methods for extrapolating across scales.


Fire Regime Neutral Model Fire Spread Fire Occurrence Fire Size 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences LaboratoryPacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest ServiceSeattleUSA

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