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Towards a new paradigm in fire severity research using dose–response experiments

Smith, Alistair M. S., Sparks, Aaron M., Kolden, Crystal A., Abatzoglou, John T., Talhelm, Alan F., Johnson, Daniel M., Boschetti, Luigi, Lutz, James A., Apostol, Kent G., Yedinak, Kara M., Tinkham, Wade T., Kremens, Robert J.
The International journal of wildland fire 2016 v.25 no.2 pp. 158-166
carbon, carbon cycle, combustion, dose response, ecophysiology, fire severity, heat, leaves, plant physiology, reflectance, vegetation index
Most landscape-scale fire severity research relies on correlations between field measures of fire effects and relatively simple spectral reflectance indices that are not direct measures of heat output or changes in plant physiology. Although many authors have highlighted limitations of this approach and called for improved assessments of severity, others have suggested that the operational utility of such a simple approach makes it acceptable. An alternative pathway to evaluate fire severity that bridges fire combustion dynamics and ecophysiology via dose–response experiments is presented. We provide an illustrative example from a controlled nursery combustion laboratory experiment. In this example, severity is defined through changes in the ability of the plant to assimilate carbon at the leaf level. We also explore changes in the Differenced Normalised Differenced Vegetation Index (dNDVI) and the Differenced Normalised Burn Ratio (dNBR) as intermediate spectral indices. We demonstrate the potential of this methodology and propose dose–response metrics for quantifying severity in terms of carbon cycle processes.