The Modern and Historic Fire Regimes of Central Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts (Mouw 2002)


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The goals of this project were to determine how fire and vegetation have interacted in the past 150 years in the central Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts woodlands, and to use this information to determine what management actions could be taken to reduce both the current and future fire danger while protecting unique plant and animal communities. Data were collected from intensive and extensive vegetation sampling, as well as from the interpretation of aerial photos. Two fire regimes were defined for the area: the late historic (1850-1955) and the modern (1955- present day). Data were collected on Manuel F. Correllus State Forest (MFCSF) which comprises 5,190 acres (2,100ha) of scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia), oak woodland (Q. alba, Q.stellata, and Q. velutina), pitch pine (Pinus rigida) forest, and conifer plantation (primarily Pinus strobus, P. resinosa, and Picea glauca) vegetation in the center of the Island. The vegetation of the Forest has been subjected to frequent wildfires for as long as records are available and was probably burned before the arrival of Europeans in the early 17th century. Using the data collected, the stands of MFCSF were grouped into six vegetation types, and six fuel types. Six custom fuel models, which are assemblies of vegetation structure data that are used by fire behavior simulations to predict fire behavior, were then created from these six fuel types. Using the fire behavior simulators, BEHAVE and FARSITE, potential fire behavior on the Forest was then evaluated.

Historic and prehistoric changes in the Rome, New York pine barrens (Kurczewski, 1999)

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ABSTRACT - Early documents and maps, landscape features, soils, climate, fossil pollen and charcoal as evidence of vegetation and fire history, modern plants, and insects were used to evaluate past changes in the pitch pine communities on the Rome Sand Plains of central New York. Pitch pine and ericaceous shrubs became important at this locality ca. 1500 to 1600 A. D. Increased disturbance including Indian-caused fires may have triggered this event. Euro-American logging, land clearance, and fire in the 19th and early 20th centuries helped to maintain existing pine barrens and convert mesophytic deciduous-coniferous forest to pine barrens. Fires associated with brush removal, a railroad that ran through the area, blueberry production, and arson destroyed soil organic horizons and decreased available moisture and nutrients favoring xerophytic over mesophytic plant species. Pine barrens at this locality are reverting to mesophytic deciduous-coniferous forest with abandonment of the railroad and late 20th century fire suppression efforts.

Historical Changes in the pine barrens of Central Suffolk County, NY (Kurczewski and Boyle, 2000)

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ABSTRACT - Soils, vegetation, fossil pollen and charcoal, disturbance history,

early documents and maps, and insects were used to interpret past changes in the

central Suffolk County, Long Island, New York pine barrens. Before Euro-

American settlement pitch pine-oak-heath woodland, pitch pine-scrub oak barrens,

and dwarf pine plains probably covered portions of the broad outwash

plain south of the Ronkonkoma Moraine. These communities would have occurred

on deep, coarse-textured, excessively drained, nutrient-impoverished,

acidic, fire-prone sandy soils. Logging, land clearance, and repeated humancaused

fires promoted the expansion of barrens vegetation through much of

central Suffolk County during the 17th-19th centuries. Pitch pine became established

on the disturbed loamy, sandy, and gravelly soils. Scrub oak sprouted

profusely on these soils in response to repeated burning of the undergrowth.

The seed for this expansion dispersed from trees and shrubs growing in adjacent

oak-pitch pine and pitch pine-oak woodlands. With 20th century fire suppression,

pine barrens reverted to oak-hardwood forests in northcentral Suffolk

County and oak-pine and pine-oak forests in southcentral Suffolk County. Pine

barrens persisted in sections of eastcentral and southcentral Suffolk County in

response to periodic burning.

November 2017 Newsletter

In this month's Newsletter:

NAFSE's Activities:  Maine Events, Meetings, JFSP publication
NAFSE's Upcoming Events:  Igniting Exchange Partners Meeting, Webinar
Upcoming Events: Conferences, Training Courses
In The News: The Year Maine Burned, Mashpee Habitat, Monster Wildfire, Months-long CT Wildfire, Meet Nick Skowronski
Grant Opportunity: The Northeastern Area Request for Project Proposals
North Atlantic Fire Science Resource Highlights: App for Fuel Monitoring
Photos: Recent NAFSE and Regional Events

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.


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. 

Methods in Fire History Part 3 - Original literary accounts of Native American Fire in the North Atlantic

Check out this April research brief with the latest installment of our Methods in Fire History series, focusing on original literary accounts of Native American burning.


Authors: Inga La Puma author of the brief, Emily Russell (now Southgate) author of the paper

Methods in Fire History Part 2: Using fossil pollen and charcoal to investigate fire history; implications for management of eastern oak species

Our December research brief highlighting a 2005 paper by William A. Patterson III. Patterson used fossil pollen and charcoal to investigate fire history in oak systems across our region.

The is the second in our series of research briefs addressing different methods used to research and understand North Atlantic fire history.   

Download .pdf


Authors: Inga La Puma author of the brief, William Patterson author of the paper.