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    Regrowth after fire is critical to the persistence of chaparral shrub communities in southern California, which has been subject to frequent fire events in recent decades. Fires that recur at short intervals of 10 years or less have been considered an inhibitor of recovery and the major cause of 'community type-conversion' in chaparral, primarily based on studies of small extents and limited time periods. However, recent sub-regional investigations based on remote sensing suggest that short-interval fire (SIF) does not have ubiquitous impact on postfire chaparral recovery. A region-wide analysis including a greater spatial extent and time period is needed to better understand SIF impact on chaparral. This study evaluates patterns of postfire recovery across southern California, based on temporal trajectories of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from June-solstice Landsat image series covering the period 1984-2018. High spatial resolution aerial images were used to calibrate Landsat NDVI trajectory-based estimates of change in fractional shrub cover (dFSC) for 294 stands. The objectives of this study were (1) to assess effects of time between fires and number of burns on recovery, using stand-aggregate samples (n = 294) and paired single- and multiple-burn sample plots (n = 528), and (2) to explain recovery variations among predominant single-burn locations based on shrub community type, climate, soils, and terrain. Stand-aggregate samples showed a significant but weak effect of SIF on recovery (p < 0.001; R2 = 0.003). Results from paired sample plots showed no significant effect of SIF on dFSC among twice-burned sites, although recovery was diminished due to SIF at sites that burned three times within 25 years. Multiple linear regression showed that annual precipitation and temperature, chaparral community type, and edaphic variables explain 28% of regional variation in recovery of once-burned sites. Many stands that exhibited poor recovery had burned only once and consist of xeric, desert-fringe chamise in soils of low clay content. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Emanuel A Storey, Douglas A Stow, John F O'Leary, Frank W Davis, Dar A Roberts. Does short-interval fire inhibit postfire recovery of chaparral across southern California? The Science of the total environment. 2021 Jan 10;751:142271

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    PMID: 33182014

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