A comparison of three methods for classifying fuel loads in the Southern Appalachian MountainsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
As the wildland-urban interface in the Southern Appalachian Mountains has grown and become more complex, land managers, property owners, and ecologists have found it increasingly necessary to understand factors that drive fuel loading. Few predictive fuel loading models have been created for this important region. Three approaches to estimating fuel loads are compared here. Community type, landscape position, and disturbance may all affect fuel loading, but no prior studies have compared them as predictors of fuel loading. The Landscape Ecosystem Classification system uses information about landform, vegetation, and soils to identify distinct forest community types. Slope position and aspect also contribute to the effects of topography on forest community types. Finally, disturbance type is discussed in the context of its contribution to fuel accumulation. Using discriminant analysis, we found significant differences in resubstitution success rates among the methods. However, the vectors of discriminating fuel variables for these methods are similar, indicating the importance of ericaceous fuels in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.