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Wildfires, complexity, and highly optimized tolerance

Moritz, Max A. and Morais, Marco E. and Summerell, Lora A. and Carlson, J. M. and Doyle, John (2005) Wildfires, complexity, and highly optimized tolerance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102 (50). pp. 17912-17917. ISSN 0027-8424. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:MORpnas05

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Abstract

Recent, large fires in the western United States have rekindled debates about fire management and the role of natural fire regimes in the resilience of terrestrial ecosystems. This real-world experience parallels debates involving abstract models of forest fires, a central metaphor in complex systems theory. Both real and modeled fire-prone landscapes exhibit roughly power law statistics in fire size versus frequency. Here, we examine historical fire catalogs and a detailed fire simulation model; both are in agreement with a highly optimized tolerance model. Highly optimized tolerance suggests robustness tradeoffs underlie resilience in different fire-prone ecosystems. Understanding these mechanisms may provide new insights into the structure of ecological systems and be key in evaluating fire management strategies and sensitivities to climate change.


Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Copyright © 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences. Communicated by James S. Langer, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, October 19, 2005 (received for review July 26, 2004). Published online before print December 6, 2005, 10.1073/pnas.0508985102. We thank S. Cole and M. Gill for thoughtful comments on earlier drafts. This work was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, National Science Foundation Grant DMR-9813752, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through U.S. Army Research Office Grant DAAD19-03-D-0004.
Subject Keywords:SELF-ORGANIZED CRITICALITY; POWER LAWS; ECOLOGICAL RESILIENCE; POSITIVE INTERACTIONS; SEED-GERMINATION; FIRE MANAGEMENT; FOREST-FIRES; DISTURBANCE; PATTERNS; BEHAVIOR
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:MORpnas05
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:MORpnas05
Alternative URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0508985102
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3243
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Jun 2006
Last Modified:26 Dec 2012 08:53

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