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Monday, April 9 • 5:30pm - 7:00pm
POSTER: Can the Arrangement of Jack Pine Barrens Mediate the Spread of Wildfires Under Various Climate Scenarios?

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AUTHORS: Madelyn M. Tucker *, Daniel M. Kashian – Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University

ABSTRACT: Jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) barrens were historically common in northern Lower Michigan, USA, where open, low-fuel barrens persisted within dense, high-fuel jack pine forests. This structure was maintained by frequent, stand-replacing wildfires prior to 20th century fire suppression. Modern forest management prioritizes jack pine plantations to provide endangered Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii Baird) nesting habitat, but barrens are rarely included and this management has altered the landscape. Barrens host rarer grassland species and potentially create wildfire fuel breaks, but changes in temperature and/or precipitation related to global climate change may alter barrens creation in a number of ways: increased woody plant establishment may change the structure of barrens, warming may reduce negative effects of frost pockets and encourage plant establishment and persistence, and disruptions to the wildfire regime may preclude barrens creation altogether. Reduced distributions of barrens would have a negative impact on landscape heterogeneity and biodiversity, and would likely impede wildfire management in a populated, fire-prone area. Therefore, we used LANDIS-II with historical climate and two general circulation models (GCMs; the Hadley and Canadian Centres) to model the landscape and quantify changes attributable to climate change. Initial results suggest barrens can reduce fire spread, and therefore aid in wildfire management. However, we found reduced fire-created barrens in specific GCMs. As fire severity was not significantly affected, this may result from changes in precipitation or temperature that cause increased establishment on the poor soils of the region. This may suggest that climatic factors are more important than the immediate effects of wildfire disturbance on the creation and persistence of barrens in northern Lower Michigan. Therefore, impacts of climate change should influence long-term management decisions in the region, particularly in the context of wildfire management and Kirtland’s warbler recovery.

Monday April 9, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm CDT
Monroe Room