Fire in the Redwoods

Photo by K. Hayes

The fire disturbance regime, a process affecting the structure and composition of most temperate forests, is often best described and informed by long-term records. Yet determining basic attributes of a fire regime, such as frequency and severity, may be difficult in ecosystems that have limited available fire proxies (such as multi-century tree-ring fire scar records or high-resolution lake sediments), complicating our ability to contextualize modern changes in fire occurrence against a historic or prehistoric baseline range of variability.

Our work, funded by the Bureau of Land Management Field office in Arcata, California helps inform our understanding of fire in coast redwood forests. Using radiocarbon dating and pyrogenic charcoal quantification, we established long-term records of fire in coast redwood forests, an important temperate forest ecosystem with limited information on past fire regimes. We quantified soil carbon and charcoal in the Headwaters Forest Reserve, protected old-growth coast redwood in Humboldt County, California.

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Katherine Hayes
PhD Candidate