By Dr. Matthew Dickinson- USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
Predicting tree injury and mortality generally involves the development and use of statistical models that are specific to a given species, season, and set of environmental conditions. We are trying to understand the underlying mechanisms by which trees are affected by fires in order to make predictive models more general. A mechanistic understanding can also provide insights useful for dendroecology, fire monitoring, and fire investigations. We start by introducing a “fuel ecology” context for the work. Then, we describe ongoing research on the effects of fires on tree bole and canopy injury and, in each case, discuss how to link fire behavior with the effects of interest. Applications of a mechanistic understanding are introduced throughout.