Research Brief-- Fire and Invasives: Ailanthus altissima

Photo by Jan Samanek, Phytosanitary Administration,

Photo by Jan Samanek, Phytosanitary Administration,

We have to admire non-native invasive species for their tenacity and what seems to be an amazing ability to survive anything we throw at them! Read about how Joanne Rebeck and her colleagues used prescribed fire and herbicide to understand how these methods would affect the non-native species Ailanthus altissima (stink tree).


Pine Barrens of the Northeastern U.S. - Emily Dohlansky (2018)

Emily Dolhansky put together this report on the Pine Barrens of the Northeastern U.S. as part of her graduate work at Yale University.



Pine barrens forests of the Northeastern United States are characterized by sandy soils and fire-adapted plant communities. They provide critical ecosystem and human services, including water filtration, wildlife habitat, recreation, and biodiversity. These forests are threatened by fire suppression, pests, development, and other human pressures. It is estimated that nearly half of this forest type has been lost over the past 150 years. However, there are opportunities for private landowners, non-profit organizations, and the state and federal government to restore and protect the remaining pine barrens. Enhancing the ecological integrity of these forests will benefit the landscape and the human communities that surround them. 

This document is meant to serve as a resource to scientists and forests managers alike. It combines scientific literature with success stories from the field to offer guidance to landowners who wish to restore or enhance the quality of pine barrens. The author’s insights and contributions from managers throughout the region are reflected as well. 

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Research Brief: Insect damage versus prescribed fire: comparing long-term carbon impacts

Photo by Jan Christian Thomas

Photo by Jan Christian Thomas

Do prescribed fires create long-term carbon losses from the forest? How about insect defoliations? How long does it take a forest to re-capture that carbon from the atmosphere? Dr. Kenneth Clark and his fellow researchers investigated all of this and more with their latest research in the pinelands of New Jersey. Click below to access the brief.

Research Brief.pdf>

North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange – Fire Science Research Needs Synthesis Report

What fire research is most needed in our region? Read this report to delve into the perspectives of NAFSE’s community and to discover a response. Jessica Charpentier, student at Antioch University of New England, used a scientific approach to analyze available information for her service learning project. Managers make decisions using sound research and identifying needs for more research can call attention to the gaps. This study shows that increasing research in two areas could most improve prescribed burn implementation. The two needs are: a) regionally specific experimental prescribed fire and post-burn monitoring, and b) research on public knowledge gaps and strategies for influencing attitudes. Read the full report for more details.


Contact Jess Charpentier at for more information.

Also included here is the compilation of available grey literature that Jess Charpentier put together which has been posted to the Reports and Data section of our website.

Summary Report Compilation.doc>

Research Brief: Fire and Wildlife- Eastern hognose snakes prefer managed habitat

Photo by Micheal Jewel via Flickr

Photo by Micheal Jewel via Flickr

Some animals like an open canopy and some don't! For those that do, mechanical thinning and prescribed fire can help create and maintain the habitat they need. This month's research brief covers a study by Dr. Micheal Akresh and his fellow researchers tracking the habitat preferences of the Eastern hognose snake in the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area in Western Massachusetts.

Research Brief.pdf>

Research Brief: Understanding fire behavior using modern equipment and methods

Check out this research brief on Dr. Eric Mueller's most recent paper describing the instrumentation needed to measure prescribed burns in the pinelands of New Jersey. This type of research would not be possible without the help of local managers and should help them understand how fire will behave in their system.


Prescribed fire effects: Tick management

WELCOME TO TICK SEASON IN THE NORTHEAST! Tick-borne disease is a huge issue in our region and prescribed fire could be one way to decrease tick densities for several years. Check out the latest NAFSE research brief on a study by Shane Tripp highlighting the interactions between prescribed fire and ticks in the North Atlantic region. 

For another great resource on ticks and prescribed fire check out our March webinarpresented by Dr. Liz Gleim.     

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Prescribed fire effects: Aspen’s varied response

This research brief helps set the stage for our Maine fire history panel and field trip. The research covered here focuses on short and long-term prescribed fire effects on aspen regeneration. There is very little research on prescribed fire and aspen, so this long-term study is an important one!


Monitoring techniques: Using citizen science to gather fuels data

Technology is a wonderful thing. Especially if it makes your job easier. Check out this research brief on a smartphone app designed to engage the public in estimating forest fuels. See how well professionals compared to non-professionals while using the app.


Social science: Fire and fuel management communication strategies

Don't miss this follow-up to our recent Burning Issues workshop, where we focused on prescribed fire messaging. This brief describes the results of a paper by Dr. Eric Toman and colleagues looking at the best ways to communicate fire and fuel management information to the public. Be more effective in communicating your program! Read this brief!


Suppression science: Effects of Suppression on the Ecology of the Wildland Urban Interface

Check out this month's research brief focusing on how effective suppression in the wildland urban interface results in different forest ecology in these areas. Dr. Inga La Puma and colleagues used a 50 year spatial fire history to investigate how distance from development was related to fire frequency and forest composition.


Smoke science: Understanding turbulence effects on smoke during prescribed fires

This month we highlight smoke science from the Pinelands of New Jersey where smoke impacts are never far from our minds. This research, brought to us by Dr. Warren Heilman of the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station along with his fellow researchers, highlights important observations of how turbulence forms in different types of fires, and how this research might be used in the future. 

Download.pdf >

Canada focus: Extreme fire analysis of New England and Atlantic provinces

This is the latest research brief in our Canadian focused line-up, which also includes a field trip and webinar in September to share compelling fire science between the U.S. and Canada in the North Atlantic region. This research brief summarizes a paper by Lloyd Irland, which focused on the fire history of extreme fires in New England, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. 

Canada focus: Improved delineation of the wildland-urban interface and fire risk in Nova Scotia

This brief is part of our Canadian focused line-up, which also includes a field trip and webinar in September 2016 to share compelling fire science between the U.S. and Canada in the North Atlantic region. This research brief is part of that effort and focuses on municipal level wildland-urban interface delineation in Nova Scotia. It is a cross-cutting topic that can apply to any city, town, or neighborhood in need of a sound method to prioritize resources in fire-fighting or mitigation.


Prioritizing prescribed fire areas: a geographical approach

Click here to check out NAFSE's February 2016 research brief. This month we searched for a recent paper using LANDFIRE data in preparation for our March 16th webinar highlighting the LANDFIRE resource. We found a very recent paper out of Wisconsin by Tracy Hmielowski and colleagues using LANDFIRE vegetation and fire return intervals to help pinpoint high priority areas for prescribed fire in the WUI, and throughout the state. Don't miss this brief describing Hmielowski et. al.'s methods to find out how you might be able to use them for your own area! 

Smoke science: Smoke Model Review

Click here to check out NAFSE's January 2016 research brief. This month we look at a smoke model review from 2012 by Dr. Scott Goodrick (USDA Forest Service) and colleagues which details the applicability and assumptions of smoke models in use today. Great information on the latest in smoke models!

Photo by Bob Williams

Photo by Bob Williams

Wildland-urban interface focus: Smoke Management

Check out NAFSE's December research brief highlighting an informative report that came out of the USDA Forest Service's Southern Research Station: Managing smoke at the wildland-urban interface by Dale Wade and Hugh Mobley. This paper provides a template for sound decisions regarding smoke management in the wildland-urban interface.

Download.pdf >