The role of fuels for understanding fire behavior and fire effects
Fire ecology, which has emerged as a critical discipline, links the complex interactions that occur between fire regimes and ecosystems. The ecology of fuels, a first principle in fire ecology, identifies feedbacks between vegetation and fire behavior-a cyclic process that starts with fuels influencing fire behavior, which in turn governs patterns of postfire vegetative responses and the future production of fuels (Mitchell, Hiers, et al. 2009). Recent research has used this conceptual framework to understand the relationship between combustion science and ecology and to gain mechanistic understanding of fire effects (Johnson and Miya ni shi 2001). The purpose of this chapter is to synthesize research on forest fuels charaperization-particularly as influenced by the overstory-and on the role that fuel heterogeneity plays in the feedback mechanisms between fire behavior and fire effects in the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems of the southeastern United States.