Fuel for Wildfire: Controls on the Distribution of Wildfire in the Southeastern United States

Authors: Max Morris*, Texas A&M University
Topics: Biogeography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: pyrogeography, biogeoraphy, GIS, spatial modeling
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Ecologists and wildlife managers alike have explored the role of fire as an ecosystem disturbance for decades and, yet, the economies of scale remain poorly understood in pyrogeography. Understanding how wildfire occurs on the landscape and, furthermore, how these trends will change in the future provides an enhanced understanding of vegetative patterns, successive changes and biome distributions. As scientific research begins to account for the effects of climate change, predictive modelling will remain one of the foremost tools in understanding how present day trends will begin to change. This study employs a series of spatial modeling techniques to examine which factors are most influential on the presence of wildfire hotspots on the landscape and, furthermore, which factors may be influential on areas devoid of wildfire occurrence entirely. Clustering algorithms were used to identify wildfire hotspots across the study area and targeted pseudo-absence points were created outside the bounds of these clusters. The resulting presence/absence points were analyzed within physiographic regions and a predictive model was fit to the data. Analysis of common covariates, such as climatic variables, land use and topography not only allowed this study to fit a model, but will allow similar studies to be conducted anywhere similar data is available. As different aspects of climate change begin to exert influence on ecosystems globally, this study sheds light on the how fire regimes may change with it.

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