I was part of a group that recently coauthored a paper on wildfire-driven forest conversion in BioScience, led by my colleagues Jonathan Coop, Sean Parks, and Camille Stevens-Rumann. We synthesized a growing body of evidence of fire-driven conversion, as well as our understanding of these causes across western North America. We assessed our capacity to predict conversion, highlighted uncertainties, and proposed key themes for applied research moving into the future. We think this work in noteworthy because it uncovers themes across the literature related to fire-driven conversion that can support decision-making in what is frankly, a new era of forest management. Furthermore, the paper highlights risks to forest resilience due to changing conditions that are playing out during the current fire season (2020) in the western US. The paper was an outcome from an organized session at the US International Association for Landscape Ecology Annual Meeting in 2019.

  • Coop, J. D., S. A. Parks, C. S. Stevens-Rumann, S. D. Crausbay, P. E. Higuera, M. D. Hurteau, A. J. Tepley, E. Whitman, T. J. Assal, B. M. Collins, K. T. Davis, S. Dobrowski, D. A. Falk, P. J. Fornwalt, P. Z. Fulé, B. J. Harvey, V. R. Kane, C. E. Littlefield, E. Q. Margolis, M. North, M.-A. Parisien, S. J. Prichard, and K. C. Rodman. 2020. Wildfire-Driven Forest Conversion in Western North American Landscapes. BioScience 70:659–673. *Open-access

Header image: MODIS image from NASA’s Terra satellite in early September 2020 captured the smoke from western wildfires.