Title: Spatial structure affects landscape ecology function
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Title: Spatial structure affects landscape ecology function
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Whitney, Karen
Publisher: State University System of Florida
Place of Publication: <Florida>
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Publication Date: 1999
Copyright Date: 1999
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Subject: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation thesis, M.S   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Wildlife Ecology and Conservation -- UF   ( lcsh )
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Summary: ABSTRACT: Landscape ecology is distinguished from other subdisciplines because it explicitly addresses the importance of spatial structure and pattern as well as spatially explicit environmental forces such as wind, fire and flood that move across the surface of the earth. These forces lead to 'horizontal' processes that formerly occurred across interconnected landscape subsystems and may well be essential to the ecological function and integrity of regional ecological systems. Sheet-flow of water, for example, is acknowledged as being critical to restoration and maintenance of south Florida's regional seascape as well as landscape. Fragmentation of ecological systems and their 'horizontal' functions, habitats, and/or populations of keystone species such as crop pollinators are all recognized as critical components of the present biodiversity crisis on earth. The degree to which restoration of formerly existing structural and/or functional connectivity can be achieved may be critical to regional ecological processes. Fire is increasingly recognized as a premier phenomenon that is an integral variable in the maintenance of ecological integrity of many forested landscapes in the Southeastern Coastal Plain.
Summary: ABSTRACT (cont.): Two small-scale experiments assessed the hypothesis that width of fuel connectors would differentially affect the rate and/or success of fire spreading across rural north Florida pasturelands. The effects of the two different treatment variables 1) width (of inter-patch connectors) and 2) orientation (of the connectors relative to ambient wind) were not sufficient to emerge as important relative to more salient variables including fuel moisture and humidity, solar position, ambient temperature and wind. Even though intuitive, head fires were shown to move through the connectors significantly faster than did backfires. In addition, the variance surrounding the means of the back fire movement rates was very small. All things considered, the experiments established that structural connectivity across otherwise open landscapes does have significant effects on the behavior of prescribed fire, arguably the single most critical variable with respect to vegetated landscapes in the lower Southeastern Coastal Plain of North America.
Summary: KEYWORDS: connectivity, corridors, corridor width, ecological process, fire, landscape, longleaf pine, Southeastern Coastal Plain, spatial configuration
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 1999.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 27-34).
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System Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility: by Karen Whitney.
General Note: Title from first page of PDF file.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains viii, 35 p.; also contains graphics.
General Note: Vita.
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Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: oclc - 45261505
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SPATIAL STRUCTURE AFFECTS LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY FUNCTION


By

KAREN WHITNEY














A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1999































I would like to dedicate this thesis to my parents, Don and Dianne Whitney, for their
never-ending support and encouragement since I was a child and throughout my
schooling, and for helping to create my love for nature through PBS and Wild Kingdom.









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Sincere thanks are due to my advisor and committee chair, Dr. Larry Harris, for

inspiring me as an undergraduate and encouraging me to focus on being a scholar. Dr.

Doria Gordon, guided my research initiatives and provided valuable advice in all phases of

the fire ecology studies. Dr. Phil Hall assisted in my studies and research proposal for the

never-finished research at Camp Blanding Training Site (CBTS) near Keystone Heights,

Fla.

Others influenced my work, most importantly, Kristina Jackson, a valuable friend

who caused me to meet Dr. Harris and subsequently study wildlife ecology and who also

helped me with the design, fieldwork and statistics of this research. Mr. Tom Hoctor

assisted me with many facets of this research, challenged my thinking of ecological issues

and helped me to improve as a scholar. Kelly McPherson deserves thanks for helping with

statistical aspects of the experimental design and with fieldwork. Thanks go to Dr. Jack

Putz and Dr. Katie Sieving for initial review of this work. Galin Jones of IFAS Statistics

provided invaluable support and advice in my statistical endeavors. Paul Catlett provided

assistance in my research efforts at CBTS. And, I would like to thank the biologists and

technicians from CBTS and (the former) Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission

who assisted in the one burn I was able to conduct there.

Last but not least, I would like to thank all the people who helped me in the field

(especially to those who volunteered): Marty Fleming, Larry Harris, Jr., Jerzy Kozlowski,

Mike McBurney, Jim Sadle, Branch Schimmenti, Rob Spitler, and Tom Workman.















TABLE OF CONTENTS
page


A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S .............................................................................................. iii








RELST OF TABLES ........................................... ..........................16



I NTR O D U C T IO N ................................................................................................. 18.........
Connectivity as a Form of Structure in the Landscape ................................................ 7
Experim mental M model System s ...................................................... 9









L ITER A TU R E C ITED TCH ............................................. ............................................. 35... 27

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ......................................................................................... 35















LIST OF TABLES
Table page

1. Micro and meso-study bum results, broken down by fire type
(head vs. backing) .. ................................................................. ............. 17

2. Some synoptic factors that may influence the spread of fire through
c o rrid o rs.......................................................................................................... . .. 2 0

3. Examples of fuels (burnable and non-burnable) for each of the
study areas at C am p B landing ................................. ...................... .............. 24

4. Percent burnable cover for each transect in the eight Camp Blanding
stu d y site s ........................................................................................................ . . 2 5















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

1. Controlled bum in a longleaf pine system. Resinous trees often
burn for days and continue to contribute to incipient fire long
after som e im m ediate areas have burned............................................ .............. 6

2. An experimental unit of the micro-scale study, pre-fire..... ............................... 12

3. One of the three meso-scale experimental units. Each meter of
linear distance was demarcated to calculate average rate of fire
spread .......................................................................... . . ..... 13

4. Conceptual design of a meso-scale experimental unit....................................... 14

5. M icro-scale reconnaissance bum study.............................................. .............. 14

6. Meso-scale bum experiment where a) fire is ignited in central patch
and b) spreads along the "spokes"............................. ................... .............. 15

7. Comparison of rates of fire spread for all fire types in the a)micro
and b) m eso-scale experim ents....... ...................... ..................... .............. 17















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
for the Degree of Master of Science

SPATIAL STRUCTURE AFFECTS LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY FUNCTION

By

Karen Whitney

December 1999


Chairman: Dr. Larry Harris
Major Department: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Landscape ecology is distinguished from other subdisciplines because it explicitly

addresses the importance of spatial structure and pattern as well as spatially explicit

environmental forces such as wind, fire and flood that move across the surface of the

earth. These forces lead to 'horizontal' processes that formerly occurred across

interconnected landscape subsystems and may well be essential to the ecological function

and integrity of regional ecological systems. Sheet-flow of water, for example, is

acknowledged as being critical to restoration and maintenance of south Florida's regional

seascape as well as landscape. Fragmentation of ecological systems and their 'horizontal'

functions, habitats, and/or populations of keystone species such as crop pollinators are all

recognized as critical components of the present biodiversity crisis on earth. The degree

to which restoration of formerly existing structural and/or functional connectivity can be

achieved may be critical to regional ecological processes.















Fire is increasingly recognized as a premier phenomenon that is an integral variable

in the maintenance of ecological integrity of many forested landscapes in the Southeastern

Coastal Plain. Two small-scale experiments assessed the hypothesis that width of fuel

connectors would differentially affect the rate and/or success of fire spreading across rural

north Florida pasturelands. The effects of the two different treatment variables 1) width

(of inter-patch connectors) and 2) orientation (of the connectors relative to ambient wind)

were not sufficient to emerge as important relative to more salient variables including fuel

moisture and humidity, solar position, ambient temperature and wind. Even though

intuitive, head fires were shown to move through the connectors significantly faster than

did backfires. In addition, the variance surrounding the means of the back fire movement

rates was very small. All things considered, the experiments established that structural

connectivity across otherwise open landscapes does have significant effects on the

behavior of prescribed fire, arguably the single most critical variable with respect to

vegetated landscapes in the lower Southeastern Coastal Plain of North America.















INTRODUCTION


Understanding how to restore and maintain spatial ecological processes can be

considered the most important element of landscape ecology (Turner 1989, Harris et al.

1996). Landscape ecology describes the nature of ecological structure and processes as

they occur in two-dimensional space over large spatial scales. In other words, the

fundamental distinguishing factor between landscape ecology and broader ecological

theory is that the latter does not explicate the importance of space. Interactions of

ecological processes and spatial structure are the most important aspect of landscape

ecology (Ims 1999, Pickett and Cadenasso 1995). Understanding fundamental ecological

processes on the landscape may be critical for the maintenance of natural system integrity.

Wind, floodwater and fire that usually moves across the landscape are not only important

in sculpting the pattern of elements on the landscape, they are known to be critical to

long-term system function (Parsons 1981, Harris et al. 1996).

Wind is known to be important over space and time insofar as it spreads fire and

creates dune systems or aeolin landscapes. "Waves" (or gusts) of wind are very important

to the spread of fire in that they can push fires quickly over large areas (Komerek 1967).

The great bluffs along the Missouri River were created or "blown there" by elluviation

from the Rocky Mountains. Dune formations on the southwest coast of France are not

only sculpted by wind but are very actively covering forests on the back slopes (L.D.

Harris, pers. comm.).









Sheet flow used to be a critical landscape process in the structural and functional

aspects driving the Everglades regional system of southern Florida as well as other

hydrologic systems in the SECP, such as flooding of the Suwannee River. Research has

been conducted to demonstrate the influence of sheet flow of water on tree island shape in

the Northern Everglades (Brandt 1997). In the 19th century, Hamilton-Disston contracted

with the State of Florida to expressly prevent sheet flow by digging canals in favor of

rapid water delivery to the sea. As a follow-up to Hamilton-Disston, the U.S. Army

Corps of Engineers dredged a straight canal in the 1950's to subsume the highly

meandered Kissimmee River that connected the Orlando chain of lakes to Lake

Okeechobee. While the drainage facilities increased land available for cattle grazing, they

also terribly degraded water quality in Lake Okeechobee (McCally 1999). Regional scale

restoration projects, such as the restoration of rivers (Kissimmee, Ocklawaha) and water

flow in the Everglades, have proven to be highly debated public policy issues due to the

high monetary costs and intensive restructuring of the systems. Most ecologists, though,

believe that the need to restore and maintain spatial processes is increasingly important to

biodiversity conservation. Another example of the functional influences of floodwater can

be seen in the historical flooding of the SECP riverine systems. Low topographic relief,

causes any water-level rise to expand the water horizontally. This back-and-forth

movement across the floodplain [referred to as a "seasonably migratory ecotone"] is the

critical process responsible for the high productivity in the system (Harris et al. 1996).

Spatial and temporal scales are thus functionally interrelated by these large-scale physical

forces (Harris et al. 1996).











Fire as a Spatial Process



Fire is an important social, biological and political phenomenon in Florida. Fire

shaped the spatial structure of the composition and distribution of forest types in the

Southeastern Coastal Plain (Waldrop et al. 1992). Because fire is such a critical

ecological process in the SECP, it has played a major role in sculpting the distribution of

biota on the landscape. Thus, fire has long been significant to both cultural and natural

history in the Southeast. With respect to fragmentation effects on the once-dominant

longleaf pine system ecology, fire movement is arguably the single most important

variable.

Natural fire regimes (with variable timing, stochasticity, fuel loads, and spread)

that are now known to be so critical to the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity in

the Southeastern Coastal Plain (SECP) are consistently altered by anthropogenic

landscape fragmentation by human-built structures such as housing developments, roads

and canals. Therefore, unraveling the variables that influence or control the movement of

fire across landscapes is fundamental to forest management and planning. Physical

environmental factors such as wind, fuel load, fuel moisture and ambient temperature are

without question overriding variables of greatest influence on the nature of fire on the

landscape. But, ensconced within these variables the question of connectivity should also

be addressed.

There is a copious amount of literature published about fire and fire history (see

Frost 1993, Komerek 1963, 1967, Platt and Rathbun 1993), yet, few experiments have









been conducted on spatial aspects of fire movement. This experiment examined the effect

of spatial connectivity of patches as an initial step toward understanding inter-patch

dynamics on/in fragmented landscapes. Manipulations of fuel load and width served as a

proxy for connectivity and connectedness. Through these experimental factors (and

assumptions), an inter-patch process was tested. Given that many physical environmental

factors such as wind may exert greater influence on the rate of spread of fire than does

corridor width, there is a strong need for further research examining the effect of corridor

width on the nature of fire progression across the landscape.

An exceptionally high number of lightning strikes (in the region) were most likely

responsible for igniting many fires that could formerly propagate across an interconnected

landscape. Under such conditions even a single lightning strike could change the

ecological function from that of a local disturbance to one at a systems-level (Platt and

Rathbun 1993). As a consequence, biota most likely evolved in response to the frequency

and intensity of recurrent factors such as this (Komarek 1963, Pyne et al. 1996).

Wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana and A. stricta, see Peet 1993 a,b) is a dominant

understory species that provides fine fuel load that facilitates fire spread throughout

sandhills in the Southeast (Platt et al. 1988, Noss 1989, Whitney unpubl. data). Longleaf

pine (Pinus palustris) also serves two critical functional roles in maintaining the

pine-grassland system on uplands of the lower SECP. Not only do the remarkably long

and resinous leaves complement the wiregrass as a fuel source (Platt and Rathbun 1993),

the longleaf pine actually promotes fire through its highly resinous trees and related bole

and branch structure (Landers 1991). Mature pines seem to serve as lightning receptors

as well as the pyrogenic basis of fire (incendiary litter), which, in turn precludes hardwood









invasion beneath the crowns and into the surrounding matrix (Mutch 1970, Williamson

and Black 1981, Platt et al. 1988, Landers 1991, Platt and Rathbun 1993) (Figure 1).

Landers (1991) suggested that the increased flammability among most species in

the genus Pinus was under selection as a homeorhetic process that strongly favors pines

on harsh sites as well as it is a mechanism for gaining dominance over otherwise

competitive species. Climatic periods with frequent lightning fire under moist conditions

likely selected for these and many other fire-dependent plant species with traits that tend

to increase the probability of fire (Abrahamson and Hartnett 1991, Landers 1991).

One of the first Spanish explorers to chronicle and describe the SECP, Cabeza de

Vaca (1528; cited in Hodge and Lewis 1907), wrote of the frequent "sprays" of lightning

strikes on pines as he traveled through Florida. Bartram (1792) [some 250 years later]

described the structural result; monospecific overstories of longleaf pine comprised of

widely spaced trees over a wide highly-diverse savanna (Landers 1991). Since European

colonization, logging, agriculture, and urbanization have degraded and replaced the pine-

grassland systems of the SECP. Less than 1.0% of the estimated original 92 million acres

now remain in good condition for this community type (Frost 1993). Loss of the area in

longleaf pine landscapes has been so widespread that virtually no old-growth stands

remain today. Those remaining stands are not sufficiently extensive to experience and/or

assimilate "natural" disturbance regimes. Invasion by fungi, rust, and hardwoods are now

common occurrences because there is no longer sufficiently healthy growth of wiregrass

and/or needle fall to facilitate the spread of fire (that controls competitors) and smoke that

both retards disease and facilitates seed germination. In addition, due to fire suppression

there is a build up of "heavy roughs" (accumulation of combustible fuels) that poses a









threat of wildfires (Wade and Lunsford 1989). Because so few experiments have been

conducted on fire movement, further experimentation that focuses on process conveyance

across a multitude of ecosystem/landscape types should follow this research. Thus, in the

eyes of Harris et al. (1996) [and many others] the challenge of conservation in the

Southeast is that of

restoring and maintaining a spatially integrated longleaf pine ecosystem that
can and will maintain the full suite of landscape ecological processes,
including fire (and smoke) that is ignited in one place but allowed to
disperse across the system; a system that .. can remain viable and resilient
because of its extensive nature; .. and a system that is interdigitated with
other community types that provide seasonally important services for the
longleaf pine community and vice versa. (Harris et al. 1996 p.341)


Figure 1: Controlled bum in a longleaf pine system. Resinous trees often bum for days
and continue to contribute to incipient fire long after some immediate areas have burned.









Connectivity as a Form of Structure in the Landscape



Connectivity is a fundamental feature of most natural landscapes (Merriam 1984,

Noss and Harris 1986, Forman and Godron 1986, Noss and Harris 1989). The role of

connectivity in reserve design resulting in creation of ecological networks is to help

restore naturally connected landscapes and assist in the maintenance of indigenous

ecological processes under which these landscapes evolved. Linkages that allow for

spatial and temporal interactions to occur at the level of the regional landscape may well

constitute a critical system attribute. The theoretical works of Preston (1962), MacArthur

and Wilson (1963, 1967) and Diamond (1975), coupled with considerable empirical

evidence (see Beier 1993, 1995, and Beier and Noss 1998) suggest that physically

connected patches of habitat on the landscape are one means to support and maintain a

greater richness of indigenous species and system integrity (Harris and Scheck 1991).

Many have articulated ideas leading to this hypothesis on how dispersal and source-sink

dynamics are recurrent processes in the landscape (Levin 1974, Roff 1974a, b, Roff 1975,

Levin 1976, Henderson et al. 1985, Pulliam 1988, Harris and Gallagher 1989).

To maintain biodiversity over long periods of time, natural landscape patterns of

heterogeneity and other emergent ecological processes must be recognized and addressed

at the level of regional ecological planning (Harris and Kangas 1979, Harris 1984, Noss

and Harris 1986, Noss 1987, Hansson and Angelstam 1991, Harris and Atkins 1991,

Harris and Scheck 1991). Essential to this type of planning is the recognition of

functionality of landscapes. This can be most easily maintained or restored by attaining

critical minimum levels of connectivity that facilitate horizontal ecological processes.









Functional landscape systems will, in turn, allow energy flow and other ecological

processes to propagate across multiple spatial scales and create critical levels of structural

heterogeneity such as edges and patches.

Both the benefits (Forman and Godron 1986, Noss 1987, Henein and Merriam

1990, Hobbs 1992) and costs (Simberloff and Cox 1987, Simberloff et al. 1992) of

corridors have been discussed in the scientific literature. Still, the consensus among

leading ecologists is that an overarching paradigm of spatial connectivity is a prominent

aspect of landscape structure and function.

Although the value of connectivity of the landscape seems to be recognized in both

the scientific and management communities, empirical data on the roles of corridors and/or

connectedness are limited (Baudry and Merriam 1988). Moreover, questions regarding

the spatial distribution, configuration, and physical aspects of corridor must be better

defined. Baudry and Merriam (1988) noted how connectivity is a parameter receiving

value from processes moving across landscape elements while connectedness is

demonstrated through structural landscape features. McDonnell and Stiles (1983) also

showed how the importance of processes may be revealed through structural elements

(i.e., its connectedness). For instance, several questions were posed regarding the

structural aspects of corridors as well as the length and shape of corridors (spatial

configuration) (McDonnell and Pickett 1988, Adams and Dove 1989, Nicholls and

Margules 1991, Noss 1993). Given the entire debate, the most pervasive and recurring

question pertains to corridor width: "How wide should a corridor be?" Some authors

have addressed this issue (Harris and Atkins 1991, Harris and Scheck 1991, Baur and

Baur 1992, Polla and Barrett 1993) and have therefore suggested that it depends on what









function it must serve (e.g., habitat, dispersal conduit for plants and/or animals, etc.; see

Noss (1993). The role of environmental corridors in facilitating seed dispersal and the

movement of animals and other phenomena such as disease has been reviewed in depth

(Beier and Noss 1998, Simberloff et al. 1992, Saunders and Hobbs 1991, Harris and

Gallagher 1989, Noss 1987, Forman and Godron 1986). But the role that corridors might

play in the movement of an ecological process such as fire has not been experimentally

addressed. A logical extension of this idea is that these processes are affected by the

nature, shape, and connectedness of the habitats in which they are conveyed.





Experimental Model Systems



Wiens et al. (1985) noted how "so few proper experimental designs have been

applied to probe the effects of patch boundary variables on ... the flow of matter between

landscape elements, especially in view of the perceived importance of such processes in

landscape ecology" (Ims 1999, p.46). On the other hand, it is indeed possible to construct

such experiments where aspects of a landscape-level process can be tested in experimental

landscapes designed at a fine (or "micro") scale (Ims 1999). In these experimental model

systems, demonstrated through the work of Ims and Stenseth (1989), Wiens et al. (1993),

and Bowers et al. (1996), landscape heterogeneity and landscape-level population

dynamics can be replicated and tested using experimental treatments at a small scale (Ims

1999).









Because of the difficulty of conducting larger-scale experiments, experimental

model systems (EMS) may be used to evaluate ecological responses to spatial

heterogeneity (Ims 1999, With 1997, Wiens 1989). These EMS consist of

"microlandscapes" where researchers can mimic spatial aspects at "micro" scales in the

hope of understanding broader-scale processes (With 1997). Scientists can then

extrapolate results from small-scale experiments to larger scale landscapes; especially with

the aid of spatially explicit modelling (O'Neill, 1979). For example, Wiens and Milne

(1989) conducted an experiment that used beetles to evaluate models based on percolation

theory to assess responses to various landscape configurations. These studies are most

relevant because they came close to isolating a single or a few ecological processes from

an otherwise "tangled bank" of confounding variables (With 1997). No ecologist doubts

the need to understand horizontal or spatial processes across both real and/or

"experimental" landscapes (With 1997, Rastetler et al. 1992, With and Crist 1996). Many

consider the functional role spatial processes have in the landscape to be the central issue

in ecology (Levin 1992, Harris et al. 1996). It is subsequently believed that conservation

of ecosystems and communities are destined to fail if component systems are isolated from

the processes that drive their function.

The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of inter-patch connectivity

and configuration on the movement of fire. It was hypothesized that configuration of

experimental "corridors" would affect inter-patch process conveyance. Specifically, I

tested this hypothesis by manipulating fuel load and configuration and examining the

resulting connectivity of fire between patches. In the larger view, fuel quality and

connectedness constitute an important control in the movement of fire across a landscape.















METHODS


Each experiment consisted of a central patch where the fuel was ignited so that the

fire had equal opportunity to spread outward in a 360 pattern across the landscape. The

treatment variable consisted of replicated radiating "corridors" of two different widths.

Orientation of the different-width corridors helped to allay the effects of stochastic

variables such as wind direction and speed. The three treatments of varying width were

applied to the replicated units so that each experimental corridor would have an equal

chance of propagating fire outward to another patch.

The micro-scale experiment consisted of four experimental units, each unit

resembling a cross that consisted of a central pyre (radius = 5 m) and four radiating

"spoke-corridors" (length = 10 m). The corridor width treatment was 1 meter versus 2

meters. Within each replicate unit, the coupled linear treatments of width were randomly

oriented in either a north-south or east-west direction (Figure 2). These micro-scale units

were created on a mowed bahiagrass pasture converted from a sandhill community. Fuel

enhancement consisted of evenly distributed pine straw loaded at lkg/m2 (dry weight)

within the radiating corridors. The micro-scale prescribed fire was performed on

November 23, 1996 starting at 11:15 a.m. The day was clear and sunny, with maximum

air temperature of 23, and relative humidity of 28%. Winds were variable from the south,

ranging from 0-10 k.p.h.


















- iWI


Figure 2: An experimental unit of the micro-scale study, pre-fire.



The meso-scale experiment consisted of three experimental units of the same

configuration as the micro-scale experiment. The four 15 meter perpendicular spokes that

radiated out from a central pyre (radius = 10m). The corridor width treatments were 2

meters and 5 meters. Again, each replicate was located in north-south and east-west

directions and each width treatment was randomly oriented to each of the cardinal

directions within each unit (Figures 3 and 4). These units were established on a different

converted sandhill pasture in western Alachua Co., Florida. The experimental site

consisted of bare, previously burnt pasture and fuel load manipulation consisted of evenly

distributed pine straw at 1.5 kg/m2, similar to that used in rate of spread studies such as

McAlpine and Wakimoto (1991). The meso-scale study prescribed fire was performed on

March 12, 1997, starting at 12:30 p.m. The day was party cloudy and sunny, with

maximum air temperature of 27, and relative humidity was 36%. Winds were variable

from the northwest, ranging from 0-10 k.p.h.

In both the micro-scale and the meso-scale prescribed fire experiments, fire was









ignited in the center of the central pyre. Fire spread and radiated out to each of the

treatment spokes. Time for the fire to reach each of meter intervals was recorded so the

rate of fire spread and means could be calculated (Figure 5, Figure 6). To avoid aspects

of autocorrelation because cumulative time was recorded per meter for the meso study,

slopes and intercepts from the linear regressions were used to test for effects. In the linear

regression, time and distance were analyzed. Both the intercepts and slopes of these lines

were regarded as the response variables in the appropriate ANOVA model with individual

tests for plot, plot width, and interaction between orientation and width within a plot. The

analysis was performed as a randomized block design, with replicates as the block effect

(includes variation in land condition, terrain, weather, time, etc.) and path width as the

principal treatment. A probability of 0.05 was used for all ANOVA analyses to demarcate

statistical significance in the results.

















Figure 3: One of the three meso-scale experimental units. Each meter of linear distance
was demarcated to calculate average rate of fire spread.














Destination
patches

15 m


Randomly
located


15 m


Patch of fire
cn gnat c~


Figure 4: Conceptual design of a meso-scale experimental unit.


Figure 5: Micro-scale reconnaissance bum study.






















a)





















b)


Figure 6: Meso-scale bum experiment where a) fire is ignited in central patch and b)
spreads along the "spokes".















RESULTS

Effects of wind (orientation) were evident in the outcomes of both "micro" and

"meso" experiments. Most apparent in the study were significant effects of orientation of

the "corridors"; not surprising since wind direction (and/or speed) helps or hinders the

spread of fire along a given path. Wind can hinder the spread of fire when airflow

direction is opposite to the direction of fire spread. There was high correlation between

time and distance for each "spoke/corridor" within experimental units. Significant

differences emerged from the ANOVA for the slopes of the regression lines (P = 0.04, F =

5.15, df= 1); but not the intercepts for orientation of treatments (P = 0.94, F = 0.0, df= 1,

respectively) in the micro-scale study. No significant difference was found for width (P =

0.77, F = 0.08, df = 1 and P = 0.21, F = 1.74, df = 1, respectively) nor was there any

significant interaction effect between orientation and width (P = 0.85, F = 0.04, df = 1, P =

0.51, F = 0.45, df= 1, respectively).

Significant differences were evident between the regression slopes for orientation

for orientation of treatments (P = 0.003, F = 17.58, df = 1); but not the intercepts (P =

0.61, F = 0.28, df= 1) in the meso-scale experiment. The analysis of the width treatments

did not show significant differences for the slopes or intercepts (P = 0.12, F = 2.88, df= 1,

and P = 0.74, F = 0.12, df= 1, respectively). Nor, was there a statistically significant

interaction between orientation of the treatments and treatment width (P = 0.26, F = 1.44,

df = 1, and P = 0.82, F = 0.05, df= 1, respectively).











Differences in the width treatments were most evident through the

comparison of rates. For both micro and meso studies, there was a trend towards

greater rate of spread in the wider width treatments, independent of orientation on

the treatments, although these results did not show a strong enough effect to be

statistically significant (Table 1, Figure 7).


Table 1: Micro and meso-study burn results, broken down by fire type (head vs.
backing).
Average rate (m/s) for orientation (head vs. back) head fires back fires
Micro-scale 0.09 0.05
Meso-scale 0.20 0.08


0.2530
o.2o


0, 05--

a) 0.00





F f ,re types In te, a-mire
a) -e experiments.

0.30


0.2

I -iT.OhN batk -re



b)
Figure 7. Comparison of rates of fire spread for all fire types in the a)micro and b) meso-
scale experiments.















DISCUSSION


Corridor width, or the physical configuration of the patch-to-patch connectors, did

not significantly influence fire spread in these experiments at the scale conducted. The

only variable that played a significant role in the spread of fire was fire type as influenced

by orientation of the "corridors." This result was predicted because it seems to be

intuitive that wind would be sufficiently strong as to favor or hinder the spread of fire

along a given path. Wind has been previously demonstrated to be an influential factor in

many studies (Smith and Gilbert 1974, Rothermel 1983, McAlpine and Wakimoto 1991).

Wind speed and direction are strong forces that influence the intensity and rate of spread

of fire, and are some of the most important factors to consider when prescribing a fire or

preparing to contain or suppress a wildfire (Rothermel 1983).

Rates of spread and measures of intensity are often used to quantify behavior of

wildland fires (Pyne et al. 1996, Johnson and Miyanishi 1995). This information allows

managers to predict potential fire behavior and design methods and/or guidelines in which

to suppress wildfires. It is not uncommon that fire spreads most rapidly in the direction of

local wind. Head fires such as these are predicted to achieve an elongated shape as they

move faster (Pyne et al. 1996). Although the fires exhibited through this experiment were

not large enough to be typical of an average fire with respect to behavior, the trend

towards a width effect in my experiments were opposite to general trends where greater

width means a lower rate of spread (Rothermel 1972, Rothermel 1983, Johnson 1992).









Granted, under natural conditions (i.e., experiments conducted within existing forest and

having a scale of larger magnitude) the behavior of fire within a forest would surely exhibit

this response. However, for smaller fire through delineated areas or open spaces, it is not

clear what type of response would most commonly be evident.

There are various synoptic factors that would influence fire movement through a

corridor (Table 2) and would need to be assessed for determining potential spread. These

factors are important both in prescribed fire and in fire suppression efforts.

Based upon the meso-scale experiment head fires, there appears to be some type of

wind effect evident. Although there were no statistically significant differences between

the corridor width treatments, there were practical differences evident in the comparison

of the mean rates of spread. Differences in mean rates of spread (most evident in the

meso-study head fires), showed a trend towards a width effect. This was similar to what

was expected from this experiment. The wider "corridors" did have a showed a trend

towards a greater rate of spread from patch to patch, although it was not significant at the

p = 0.05 level. However, in the presence of gusty winds (when wind speed shifted from 3

to 10 k.p.h) blowing flames over the fuel, it seems that virtually no width variance at the

small scale used would matter, and the much wider corridor widths would be necessary to

demonstrate this effect. Almost unexpectedly, but certainly logically, the width effect

revealed itself in almost every single fire that was aided by wind (head fires) along each

path.









Table 2: Some synoptic factors that may influence the spread of fire through corridors.

Factors Relevance to Fire Spread
Time Effects from ambient temperatures and humidity (hours) to
physical/chemical aspects of fuel load (decades) to slope or
topographic features (centuries) (Johnson 1992).
Wind speed and direction Local temperature differences and/or differences in terrain
can have a great influence in wind from gentle breezes to
persistent winds (Pyne et al. 1996).
Frequency of Bum Relates to fire intensity and duff (partially decomposed
organic horizon beneath litter) consumption; composition of
vegetation, etc. (Johnson and Miyanishi 1995).
Fuel type Forest type (coniferous, closed/open canopy, deciduous, open
grasses, etc. (Taylor et al. 1997) influences fire intensity.
Fuel moisture Dead fuels versus live fuels exhibit major differences in
combustion and spread and intensity and rate of spread
(Rothermel 1983).
Landscape character Influences the severity of fire, exhibited by ground versus
Source patch sizes and crown type fires, erosional losses, and effects on ecosystem
ecological edge function (Agee 1998).


Recent literature has discussed width factors in corridors for a multitude of

functions (Price and Gilpin 1996, Wiens 1996, Farina 1998). Dramstad et al. (1996) have

noted that "width and connectivity are the primary controls on the five major functions of

corridors (i.e., habitat, conduit, filter, source, sink)." Specific parameters of corridor

width have mostly addressed riparian or riverine corridors (Dramstad et al. 1996),

although some specifications of width have been suggested for mammalian underpasses in

southern Florida (Smith 1993). Although the overall purpose of these corridors is to

retain or maintain ecological function, the specifications are mostly qualitative (such as

number order in streams or variable widths of buffer zones). Because functional

connectivity is a vital element of landscape studies (Taylor et al. 1993, Clergeau and Burel









1997), is it of utmost importance to continue research efforts on quantifying physical,

structural and ecological aspects of interpatch connections in landscapes.

In spite of the fact that the experiment was designed to mitigate stochastic forces

at different scales, a larger scale study would have likely revealed significant width effects

(see Appendix). The scale of the two studies reviewed in this paper was small enough for

environmental variables to have a strong influence on fire behavior. Fire behavior

literature most often documents interior forest and/or wild fires, therefore stochastic

forces affecting forest fires are somewhat buffered in comparison. These forces and

variables, such as wind direction and speed, sun position and relative humidity, had a

moderate to strong effect on the consumption of the fuel and respective rates of fire

spread along a given path in this research. This was most evident in the comparison of

mean time to reach the end patches and mean rates of spread for the 2 meter "corridors" in

the micro-scale and meso-scale experiments. In the micro-study, which was conducted in

November, the mean time to reach the end point of 10 meters was nearly twice the time to

reach 15 meters in the meso-scale study (which was conducted in March). Although

initial conditions of the experimental units were identical (with slight changes in terms of

dry weight of the fuel), these differences demonstrate the importance of relative fuel

moisture and ambient conditions.

Recent discussions regarding fire regimes that have been altered due to

fragmentation and how landscape function may or may not have been altered imply that

fragmentation is important, or at least it is a testable hypothesis. Environmental corridors

are one means of maintaining and/or restoring physical connectivity in an otherwise









fragmented landscape. Surely, if fragmentation and/or inter-patch connectivity were truly

important to landscape-level ecological function, wouldn't their effects be manifested on

arguably the most significant ecological factor of the SECP? It is also quite possible that

physical connectivity on the landscape does not necessarily mean ecological connectedness

or vice-versa. The results certainly confirm that two concepts, physical connectivity and

ecological connectedness, are causally related to mechanisms such as structure (e.g.,

corridor width) and ecological function (e.g., wind driven vs. wind-suppressed fires). To

help test these hypotheses, landscape ecologists need to consider experimentation as a

necessary approach (Ims 1999). This research constituted an initial attempt to gain

empirical evidence regarding corridors as a conduit of energy. Though the results did not

directly demonstrate implications for corridor design or fire management strategies, one

can develop further hypotheses based on this research.















APPENDIX
MACRO-SCALE BURN EXPERIMENT

The entire experimental aspect of this thesis research was predicated upon three

spatial scales of field studies, micro-, meso- and macro-. During the summer of 1997,

eight experimental plots were constructed at Camp Blanding Training Site, near Keystone

Heights, Florida. The plots were located in two types of longleaf pine forest patches,

sandhill habitat (four plots) and flatwoods habitat (four plots). Both of these system types

evolved with frequent fire regimes (see Introduction) and contained wiregrass. The basis

of this large (or macro-) scale experiment was that there might be "real-world"

implications based on plot size. In other words, it may be more realistic or understandable

for land managers to extrapolate data from fire behavior evident at a macro-scale designed

experiment.

The design of this macro-study was similar to the first two experiments discussed

in the thesis, only larger. In the plot's center was a large 250 m2 area that would have

been the "central pyre". And, similar to the other bum studies, the plot was designed like

a cross with north-south and east-west aspects. These crossing aspects (previously

described as "corridors" or "connectors") were either 10 meters wide or 50 meters wide

and were 100 meters in length.

For each of the plots, the vegetative cover was sampled to give a relative estimate

of the percent burnable cover or connectivity of fuel for a low-intensity fire. A linear









transect was located through the center of each plot at ten meter increments. For each

ten-meter length, the percent burnable vegetation was recorded. Fuel types were classified

as either burnable (i.e., wiregrass, longleaf pine litter, 1/10/100 hour fuels (pine

cones/twigs/down logs), turkey oak leaves, etc.) to non-burnable (i.e., herbs, turkey oaks,

saw palmetto, sand, lichen, etc.) (Table 3). Percent burnable cover ranged from 30 to

100% demonstrating instances where the fuels were discontinuous (Table 4). In general,

the fuels were mosaic or patchy in nature having mostly continuous fuels but including

small areas where fuel connectivity was low. Averages of the fuel continuity for all

transects ranged from 85% to 96%. Although the fuels were highly connected, this

macro-study would have examined whether inter-patch fires would have burned to their

respective completion points (although it was quite likely that they would).



Table 3. Examples of fuels (burnable and non-burnable) for each of the study areas
at Camp Blanding.
Woodbury Wolf Branch Magnolia Lake
Longleaf pine litter wiregrass wiregrass
Turkey oak leaves Longleaf pine litter Turkey oak leaves
saw palmetto herbaceous (Vaccinium herbaceous (Asimina
sp., Asimina sp.) sp., Pterocaulon sp.)
1/10/100 hour fuels saw palmetto lichen (Cladonia spp.)
(cones, twigs, logs)
wiregrass 1/10/100 hour fuels Longleaf pine litter
(cones, twigs, logs)
lichen (mostly Cladonia spp.) gopher apple sand
sand oak saplings
herbaceous (Vacinium sp., gopher apple
Ilex sp., Pterocaulon sp.)
Longleaf pine seedlings 1/10/100 hour
fuels(cones, twigs, logs)
needle palm
smilax










Table 4. Percent burnable cover for each transect in the six Camp Blanding study
sites.


There were physical and chemical methods to delineate the experimental plots

from the forest matrix. The physical method of separation involved raking no less than

two feet away from the "corridor" edge and clearing the vegetation (i.e., removing down

trees or cutting parts of saw palmetto) that crossed the line. The chemical method

involved the application of the fire repellent gel called Barricade (Fire Protection, Inc.

1999).


Woodbury Wolf Branch Magnolia Lake

100 90 100 85 95 100 70 85

80 100 95 70 100 75 100 30

75 95 100 90 90 80 80 75

95 80 95 100 100 95 90 90

95 85 100 100 90 90 100 95

85 100 100 90 100 95 95 85

90 75 100 65 100 90 95 90

95 95 95 70 100 95 90 95

100 100 80 85 100 100 80 100

95 95 95 95 100 60 95 85

90 95 95 80 100 100 95 90

70 80 95 100 60 70 100 100









One of the eight experimental bums was nearly completed at Camp Blanding in

March 1998. It was necessary to terminate the burn due to time limitations (the bum was

not finished by nightfall). The average cumulative times to reach 75 meters were 4.23

hours (head fires) and 7.76 hours (back fires). Again, one can note that the back fires

took nearly double the time to complete the same distance. In addition, the average rates

of head versus back fires were 0.005 and 0.003 meters/second, respectively. There was

not enough data collected to make any statistical inferences regarding width or orientation

of the corridors. And, if I had an inkling of the upcoming multiple-year fire bans, I would

have used the two smaller scale studies as base input data for a fire model that replicated

the macro-scale study.















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34


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


Karen Angela Whitney was born in Miami, Florida. She arrived in Gainesville in

the summer of 1988 when she began her undergraduate career. After starting her

undergraduate education in psychology, she met Dr. Larry Harris, who would become her

graduate chair. Since that time, Karen has pursued her scholastic endeavors in wildlife,

landscape ecology and conservation biology. Karen was involved in many aspects of the

wildlife department, from being an undergraduate representative of the Wildlife

Department and member of student council to being president of the student chapter of

The Wildlife Society.

After graduating, Karen moved to the state of Washington for a year to pursue

higher education, but due to funding limitations, she was unable to start her graduate

career there. Thanks to the Florida Greenways Program and Professor Peggy Carr, Karen

was able to return to the University of Florida to more deeply examine landscape

ecological theory and experimentation. This allowed her to experience more of Dr.

Harris' tutelage, learn the "ins and outs" of ecological modeling using geographic

information systems (GIS), and play with fire! Although experiencing many hardships

throughout her graduate career, from the death of her father to the multiple years of fire

bans, Karen was finally able to analyze and bring her data together in a cohesive state.

She now endeavors to combine work in ecological modeling and landscape analysis with

natural resource management.




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