North Vancouver, Canada
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San-Miguel I.,University of British Columbia | Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services | Coops N.C.,University of British Columbia | Rickbeil G.J.M.,University of British Columbia
International Journal of Wildland Fire | Year: 2016

Regulatory and certification agencies need historical fire pattern information across the Canadian boreal forest to support natural disturbance-based management. Landsat-derived spectral indices have been used extensively to map burn severity in North America. However, satellite-derived burn severity is difficult to define and quantify, and relies heavily on ground truth data for validation, which hinders fire pattern analysis over broad scales. It is therefore critical to translate burn severity estimates into more quantifiable measurements of post-fire conditions and to provide more cost-effective methods to derive validation data. We assessed the degree to which Landsat-derived indices and ancillary data can be used to classify canopy mortality for 10 fires in the boreal forest of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Models based on two and three mortality classes had overall accuracies of 91 and 72% respectively. The three-level classification has more utility for resource management, with improved accuracy at predicting unburned and complete canopy mortality classes (93 and 66%), but is relatively inaccurate for the partial mortality class (56%). The results presented here can be used to assess the suitability of different canopy mortality models for forest fire management goals, to help provide objective, consistent and cost-effective results to analyse historical fire patterns across the Canadian boreal forest. © IAWF 2016.


Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services
Canadian Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2012

Under the auspices of ecosystem-based management, historical disturbance patterns are promoted as a means of providing benchmarks for ecosystem sustainability. The associated research in support of this strategy in the boreal forest has substantially increased our understanding of frequencies, sizes, shapes, and severities of wildfires. However, despite the fact that different spatial definitions of wildfires exist in both research and practice, we have not considered the significance or impact of those differences on observed patterns. This study addresses this gap by conducting a sensitivity analysis on the influence of 11 spatial definitions of a wildfire on six pattern metrics for 24 wildfires in the Foothills Natural Region of Alberta. The results suggest that all pattern metrics were sensitive to changes to wildfire delineation, but in particular the total amount of remnants, wildfire shape, and the relationship between pre-burn fuel types and the probability of burning. The results also suggest that simple mortality maps do not necessarily identify multiple disturbed patches within wildfires, an attribute undocumented by previous research. These pattern differences potentially correspond to some fundamental differences in perception of how and why wildfires burn and our understanding of the associated processes and biological responses.


Pickell P.D.,University of British Columbia | Coops N.C.,University of British Columbia | Gergel S.E.,University of British Columbia | Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services | Marshall P.L.,University of British Columbia
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Understanding the development of landscape patterns over broad spatial and temporal scales is a major contribution to ecological sciences and is a critical area of research for forested land management. Boreal forests represent an excellent case study for such research because these forests have undergone significant changes over recent decades. We analyzed the temporal trends of four widely-used landscape pattern indices for boreal forests of Canada: forest cover, largest forest patch index, forest edge density, and core (interior) forest cover. The indices were computed over landscape extents ranging from 5,000 ha (n = 18,185) to 50,000 ha (n = 1,662) and across nine major ecozones of Canada. We used 26 years of Landsat satellite imagery to derive annualized trends of the landscape pattern indices. The largest declines in forest cover, largest forest patch index, and core forest cover were observed in the Boreal Shield, Boreal Plain, and Boreal Cordillera ecozones. Forest edge density increased at all landscape extents for all ecozones. Rapidly changing landscapes, defined as the 90th percentile of forest cover change, were among the most forested initially and were characterized by four times greater decrease in largest forest patch index, three times greater increase in forest edge density, and four times greater decrease in core forest cover compared with all 50,000 ha landscapes. Moreover, approximately 18% of all 50,000 ha landscapes did not change due to a lack of disturbance. The pattern database results provide important context for forest management agencies committed to implementing ecosystem-based management strategies. © 2016 Pickell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services | McCleary K.,Parks Canada
Forestry Chronicle | Year: 2015

Under the auspices of ecosystem-based management (EBM), using historical range of variation (HRV) knowledge to help guide forest management decision-making is becoming commonplace. In support of this evolution, we hypothesized that historical fire-scale wildfire burn patterns in western boreal Canada could be differentiated by major ecological zones. We tested 10 fine-scale burn pattern metrics for 129 natural wildfires across more than 100 million ha of western boreal Canada against existing Canadian and provincial ecological classification schemes. The results showed some evidence of two historic disturbance regimes. Fires in the Foothills and Rocky Mountain ecoregions tended to have more disturbed patches, a smaller dominant disturbed patch, and less area in partially disturbed island remnants relative to fires in the Boreal Forest and Boreal Shield. However, several key metrics such as event shape and total remnant area were zone-invariant. Fire regime parameters such as fire size and frequency may not be linked to more detailed fire behaviour parameters such as remnant patterns. The moderate, yet highly variable levels of remnant pattern variation we found across the study area represents a natural, and potentially universal source of structural and compositional diversity for the boreal that may be critical to its sustainability.


Amoroso M.M.,University of British Columbia | Amoroso M.M.,CONICET | Daniels L.D.,University of British Columbia | Bataineh M.,University of British Columbia | Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2011

This study presents new evidence of historic low-to-moderate-severity fires, intermixed with high-severity fires, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of west-central Alberta, Canada. High-severity fires that burned 120-300. years ago initiated even-aged cohorts of fast-growing lodgepole pine at each of the six study sites. Evidence of subsequent, low-to-moderate-severity fires included single and double fire scars on thin-barked lodgepole pine that were as small as 3.6. cm in diameter at the time of the fire, but survived. These low-to-moderate-severity fires resulted in structurally complex stands with a broad range of tree diameters and multiple cohorts of lodgepole pine, white and black spruce, and subalpine fir. At the site level, fire return intervals were variable, ranging from 29 to 167. years, but most were <80. years. Of the 9. years in which we documented low-to-moderate-severity fires, only the fires in 1889 and 1915 scarred trees at more than one site, indicating that these fires were small and had local effects. The new knowledge of historical, low-to-moderate-severity fires provided by this study has important implications for ecologically sustainable forest management. Although we recognize that further research needs to determine the extent of low-to-moderate-severity fires at the landscape scale, our results clearly indicate that a mixed-severity fires occurred at least locally. A broader range of silvicultural systems than is currently practiced would be consistent with historic forest dynamics. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Pickell P.D.,University of British Columbia | Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services | Coops N.C.,University of British Columbia | Gergel S.E.,University of British Columbia | Marshall P.L.,University of British Columbia
Canadian Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2015

Resource development can have significant consequences for the distribution of vegetation cover and for species persistence. Modelling changes to anthropogenic disturbance regimes over time can provide profound insights into the mechanisms that drive land cover change. We analyzed the spatial patterns of anthropogenic disturbance before and after a period of significant oil and gas extraction in two boreal forest subregions in Alberta, Canada. A spatially explicit model was used to map levels of anthropogenic forest crown mortality across 700 000 ha of managed forest over a 60-year period. The anthropogenic disturbance regime varied both spatially and temporally and was outside the historical range of variability characterized by regional fire regimes. Levels of live forest crown within anthropogenic disturbances declined and edge density increased following oil and gas development, whereas patch size varied regionally. In some places, anthropogenic disturbance generated profoundly novel landscapes with spatial patterns that had no historical analogue in the boreal system. The results illustrate that a shift in one sector of the economy can have dramatic outcomes on landscape structure. The results also suggest that any efforts to better align cumulative anthropogenic disturbance patterns with the historic baseline will almost certainly require a concerted and collaborative effort from all of the major stakeholders. © 2015, National Research Council of Canada. All Rights Reserved.


Pickell P.D.,University of British Columbia | Andison D.W.,Bandaloop Landscape Ecosystem Services | Coops N.C.,University of British Columbia
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2013

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has emerged as a dominant paradigm for the Canadian boreal forest. One of the principles of EBM is to maintain ecosystem function by means of management activities that approximate the historic patterns or processes responsible for maintaining a range of landscape conditions. This ideal has been manifested as planning schemes are shifting away from traditional sustained yield harvests toward designs based on historic wildfire disturbance patterns. Wildfire disturbance patterns represent a coarse-filter management strategy, and are well-suited to the boreal forests of Canada. Forest management professionals in the boreal have been leaders in adopting these strategies over the past decade. However, two key questions remain unanswered: (1) to what degree have these forest management efforts resulted in disturbance patterns that resemble wildfire burning patterns?; and (2) to what degree do the other sources of anthropogenic disturbance activities align with historic wildfire patterns? In this paper, an existing knowledge of historic range of variability (HRV) of wildfire patterns and the NEPTUNE (Novel Emulation Pattern Tool for Understanding Natural Events) decision support tool were used to test both questions.The results suggest that forest harvest disturbances better approximated historic disturbance patterns than did energy extraction disturbances, though in both cases some of the metrics were beyond the HRV. Significant differences were found between traditional dispersed patterns (e.g., multi-pass harvesting) and the more recent aggregate harvest (e.g., single-pass) designs. Aggregate harvests were characterized by low proportional area in matrix remnants, moderate levels of combined island and matrix remnants, and a high proportional area in the single largest disturbed patch (LDP). Dispersed harvests tended to have a higher proportional area in matrix remnants and better approximated the HRV in terms of proportional area in proportional island remnants area and largest island remnant. Aggregate harvest patterns did not perform as well for a few metrics such as proportional area in island remnants, mean island remnant size and largest island remnant. Overall, the results suggest that aggregate harvest designs better approximated key HRV patterns such as proportional matrix remnants and LDP, than did dispersed harvest designs on the landscape. The results also suggest that forest harvesting was significantly more effective at approximating historic disturbance patterns than the activities of the energy sector. Energy sector disturbances were smaller and had fewer island remnants than the HRV. The composition of surviving remnant trees within anthropogenic disturbance events (i.e., matrix and island remnants) remains a critical area of research for approximating HRV patterns. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

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