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Project ID: 15-1-07-15

Year: 2015

Date Started: 09/01/2015

Ending Date:  09/01/2018

Title: Assessing 30 years of changes in vegetation and fuels following wildfire in jack pine forests of northern Lower Michgan

Project Proposal Abstract: Jack pine-dominated ecosystems are a representative and dominant ecosystem type on the regional landscape of the northern Lake States and elsewhere, and there is a need for research that quantifies the dynamics of vegetation structure and fuel loadings in these systems in ways that will inform predictions of successional pathways and/or fire behavior. The amount of empirical data available that allow for accurate representation of crown fire behavior and spread in a modeling framework in this is low in part because fuel loadings are not adequately described, nor are the changes they undergo during succession. Research that details successional changes in vegetation and fuels is therefore necessary to develop accurate prescriptions and develop appropriate risk assessments. We propose to re-measure plant community composition, vegetation structure, and fuels development in jack pine forests of northern Lower Michigan using plots sampled in 1986 and 1996. Field data will be used to quantify successional changes in stand structure, fuels, and biodiversity for 30 years following the 1980 Mack Lake Fire, one of the largest wildfires on record in the eastern United States and resulting from an escaped prescribed fire. Model simulations of the Lake States variant of the Fuels and Fire Extension of the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FEE_FVS) will be run from data collected in 1986 and 1996, and endpoints of those simulations will be compared to newly-collected data (part of the current study) to validate our understanding of stand-level succession in Lake States jack pine forests. In addition, fuels data collected in 1986, 1996, and 2016 will be used in a fire behavior model to examine whether changes in the fuel complex over this time period is enough to affect crown fire initiation and spread. The first prescribed crown fire in live jack pine was performed by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) officials at Mack Lake in June 2014, exhibiting the desire for local managers to reinstate prescribed burning used to reduce fuels loadings. Jack pine forests in northern Lower Michigan also constitute the breeding grounds for the federally endangered Kirtlands warbler, and local managers have expressed interest in using prescribed burning in jack pine as a means of creating warbler habitat. These data will therefore improve the ability of land managers to assess the importance of successional changes in vegetation and fuels in planning and implementing fuels treatment programs on a landscape with a dramatic history of wildfire-landowner conflict, and will provide guidance for future fire risk assessment and management activity. Broader impacts include graduate and undergraduate training at an urban institution that encourages the participation of underrepresented groups in ecology and natural resources, conference presentations, refereed publications; webinars, research briefs, and a workshop/field tour will be presented with the support of the Lake States Fire Science Consortium.

Principal Investigator: Daniel M. Kashian

Agency/Organization: Wayne State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Biological Sciences

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Lisa M. Ellis

Wayne State University

Department of Biological Sciences

Budget Contact

Lisa M. Ellis

Wayne State University

Department of Biological Sciences


Wayne S. Walker

Woods Hole Research Center

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Lake States








Huron-Manistee National Forest

Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
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Supporting Documents

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