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Project ID: 16-1-04-9

Year: 2016

Date Started: 08/15/2016

Ending Date:  09/01/2019

Title: Modeling fire-induced tree mortality for eastern hardwood forests

Project Proposal Abstract: Historical fires have played an important role in the development of hardwood forests in the eastern USA. To mitigate the consequence of past fire suppression, prescribed fires have been increasingly used in these hardwood forests to restore desirable composition and structure. Because forest fires inevitably affect trees, tree mortality becomes critical to making fire management decisions. Currently, FOFEM (First Order Fire Effects Model), which synthesizes the results from fire effects studies into one computer program, has been widely applied for tree mortality prediction by resource managers. However, default equations within FOFEM for predicting tree mortality were developed by fitting data from western conifer forests to a logistic model, which should not applied to eastern hardwood forests. Furthermore, bark thickness, a key predictor in tree mortality equations, are assumed directly proportion to stem size within the FOFEM, which likely provide poor prediction to some species or small stems. Therefore, the objectives of the project are (1) to validate the bark thickness equations used in FOFEM and to develop improved equations if necessary, (2) to model post-fire tree mortality for major tree species in eastern hardwood forests, and (3) to implement bark thickness and tree mortality equations into FOFEM for application in the hardwood forests of eastern US. Objective 1 will be achieved by collecting bark thickness for major hardwood species while objective 2 will be achieved by compiling two comprehensive datasets: the experimental dataset from long-term prescribed fire studies, and the operational data from the forest inventory and analysis plots and prescribed fire information available in national forest. Our proposed study will contribute significantly to the understanding of fire-induce tree mortality in hardwood forests of the eastern USA. The updated version of FOFEM resulted from implementing improved bark thickness and new tree mortality equations will give fire and land managers a useful and much needed tool for planning a prescribed burn or considering fire management options.

Principal Investigator: Daniel C. Dey

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: NRS-Central Hardwoods

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

David Garrison

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Budget Contact

Terry R. Gross

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


Lake States

Oak Woodlands



North Atlantic











Project Deliverables

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Supporting Documents

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