Burn me once, mmm that’s the regime, but burn me twice…

So let me stand next to your fire…. Hmmm, pretty intense but not the intensity I’m after, how about next to this fire…. Wow good intensity! Problem is that’s too frequent, I think I’ll go stand next to this fire….  Ah, that’s the one.

Eucalypt forests of south-eastern Australia too have a preference for the kinds of fire they prefer. If you’re the kind of species that is really sensitive, is killed by fire, and relies on seed germination to persist (a.k.a obligate seeder), then you don’t mind some high intensity but it has to low frequency – give those germinants a chance to mature!

Alternatively, if you’re the kind of species that is pretty tolerant, survives fire, and will regrow your vegetation (a.k.a resprouter), then you can handle higher frequencies, so long as it’s not too intense. But what’s going to happen to these forests when  wildfires become both more frequent and more intense under climate change??

That’s just the question Thomas and his colleagues thought to themselves and said (and this is of course a 100% genuine quote), “This has actually happened! There’s a whole bunch of forest that has been burnt twice by massive fires in only a couple of years. That’s frequent and intense! What do we know about the responses of the different eucalypts? Let’s do a review!”…… and they did …..

For the actual science of this story you should definitely read the paper and contact the authors if you have any questions.

Fairman TA, Nitschke CR & Bennett LT (2015) Too much, too soon? A review of the effects of increasing wildfire frequency on tree mortality and regeneration in temperate eucalypt forests International Journal of Wildland Fire DOI:10.1071/WF15010

K!E#3 by Luke S. O’Loughlin

Postscript: For this post and comic, intense should be replaced throughout with severe. That would be more scientifically accurate. I went with intense for creative reasons. Would you describe Jimi as ‘severe’…..? I didn’t think so.  

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