Sustainability of Historic Wildfire Refugia in Contemporary Wildfire Events Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (M.S., Geography) -- University of Idaho, 2015 | In fire-adapted forest ecosystems, spatial heterogeneity of fire effects is essential to maintaining overall species and habitat diversity across the landscape. Forest patches that are minimally-affected by wildfire without transitioning into a different successional state (termed `refugia') maintain critical habitat for fire-sensitive species. Due to fire suppression and climate change, historically-persistent wildfire refugia may be vulnerable to loss. We investigated historically-persistent wildfire refugia and surrounding non-refugial matrix classified by Camp et al. (1997) after fires burned through the original study area in 2012 under extreme weather conditions. We found that previously classified historic wildfire refugia experienced greater fire effects than the non-refugial matrix, yet the majority of sampled forest stands persisted in the pre-fire successional state. This result demonstrates that individual wildfire refugia may not be persistent through time indefinitely, but that some patches persist as refugia within a fire area even during extreme wildfires.

publication date

  • June 15, 2015