Spatial Synchrony of Fire Occurrence in the Upper Great Lakes Region of Minnesota

Authors: Elizabeth Schneider*, University of Minnesota, Kurt Kipfmueller, University of Minnesota
Topics: Biogeography, Landscape, Physical Geography
Keywords: Fire History, Spatial Synchrony, Fragmentation, Landscape Pattern
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Upper Great Lakes region of Minnesota is naturally fragmented by a complex mixture of over 1,200 lakes ranging in size from 4 to 4,000 hectares. This fragmentation provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the degree of spatial synchrony in fire events. To address synchrony in relation to landscape fragmentation we used a fire history reconstruction developed from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park that includes 541 fire-scarred red pine samples dating from 1546–1973. Fire-scarred samples were grouped into 14 regions (15 km cluster threshold) and analysis was performed to evaluate the percentage of shared fire events between regions and the relationship to distance. Results indicate that historically fire occurrence was synchronous with 63% of the fires occurring in two or more of the 14 regions, 49% in three or more regions, and 29% of the fires recorded in four or more regions. The number of shared fire events between regions did not show a clear relationship to distance. These results suggest that fire events were historically synchronous and landscape connectivity did not have a strong influence on the co-occurrence of fires at spatially disjunct locations. This research provides crucial information regarding the spatial dynamics of the fire regime and information necessary for evaluating mechanisms that influence patterns of fire disturbance.

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