Flammability feedbacks in Gondwana temperate forests in Patagonia

Authors: Andres Holz*, Global Environmental Change Lab, Department of Geography, Portland State University, Juan Paritsis, Laboratorio Ecotono, CONICET-Universidad del Comahue, Argentina, Ignacio Mundo, Laboratorio de DendrocronologĂ­a e Historia Ambiental, IANIGLA - CONICET Mendoza, Argentina, Guadalupe Franco, Laboratorio de DendrocronologĂ­a e Historia Ambiental, IANIGLA - CONICET Mendoza, Argentina, Aime Iglesias, Laboratorio Ecotono, CONICET-Universidad del Comahue, Argentina, Paola Arroyo-Vargas, Global Environmental Change Lab, Department of Geography, Portland State University , Marcelo Castro, Laboratorio Ecotono, CONICET-Universidad del Comahue, Argentina, Sofia Singolani, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, Kyla Zaret, Global Environmental Change Lab, Department of Geography, Portland State University, Florencia Tribelli, Laboratorio Ecotono, CONICET-Universidad del Comahue, Argentina, Jennifer Landesman, Laboratorio Ecotono, CONICET-Universidad del Comahue, Argentina
Topics: Physical Geography, Environmental Science, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: regeneration, resilience, abrupt changes
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Understanding where and when wildfire occurs and how wildfire alters the potential for subsequent wildfire is one of the most urgent and challenging needs of our time. Identifying and quantifying predisposing factors and mechanisms that favor switches to alternative more fire-prone ecosystem configurations, through fire-driven positive-feedbacks, provides a theoretical framework for anticipating when disturbances may trigger abrupt shifts in forest ecosystems, as opposed to when forests are likely to be resilient. Temperate forests in Patagonia have a higher vulnerability to fire-driven major ecosystem changes than most Northern Hemisphere temperate forests and recently have experienced a warming-driven surge in wildfires. Here we present preliminary results on the mechanisms responsible for observed large-scale shifts in landscape configurations across a moisture gradient in Patagonia which will also enhance understanding of potential vulnerabilities of forest ecosystems elsewhere to catastrophic change. Preliminary results suggest that in per-humid temperate rainforests, postfire decline in evapotranspiration favors subsequent waterlogging and invasion of shade-intolerant Sphagnum species, which contribute to substrate acidification, ultimately hampering tree seedling establishment. In dry/cool Nothofagus forests, large-scale plantations of invasive pines have the potential to amplify climate change impacts and shape feedbacks. Specifically, pine-invaded stands have higher fine fuel loads and more fuel continuity suggesting higher fire intensity and more fire spread, and that in field experiments warming conditions result in high native species but not in invasive pines seedling’s mortality.

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