Rainfall, geology and landscape position generate large-scale spatiotemporal fire pattern heterogeneity in an African savanna

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dc.contributor.author Smit, Izak P.J.
dc.contributor.author Smit, Chris F.
dc.contributor.author Govender, Navashini
dc.contributor.author Van der Linde, Michael J. (Mike)
dc.contributor.author MacFadyen, Sandra
dc.date.accessioned 2014-10-23T08:29:27Z
dc.date.available 2014-10-23T08:29:27Z
dc.date.issued 2013-04
dc.description.abstract Fire is considered a critical management tool in fire prone landscapes. Often studies and policies relating to fire focus on why and how the fire regime should be managed, often neglecting to subsequently evaluate management’s ability to achieve these objectives over long temporal and large spatial scales. This study explores to what extent the long-term spatio-temporal fire patterns recorded in the Kruger National Park, South Africa has been influenced by management policies and to what extent it was dictated by underlying variability in the abiotic template. This was done using a spatially explicit fire-scar database from 1941 to 2006 across the 2 million hectare Park. Fire extent (hectares burnt per annum) (i) is correlated with rainfall cycles (ii) exhibits no long-term trend and (iii) is largely non-responsive to prevailing fire management policies. Rainfall, geology and distance from the closest perennial river and the interactions between these variables influence large-scale fire pattern heterogeneity: areas with higher rainfall, on basaltic substrates and far from rivers are more fire prone and have less heterogeneous fire regimes than areas with lower rainfall, on granitic substrates and closer to rivers. This study is the first to illustrate that under a range of rainfall and geological conditions, perennial rivers influence long-term, landscape-scale fire patterns well beyond the riparian zone (typically up to 15 km from the river). It was concluded that despite fire management policies which historically aimed for largely homogeneous fire return regimes, spatially and temporally heterogeneous patterns have emerged. This is primarily because of differences in rainfall, geology and distance from perennial rivers. We postulate that large-scale spatio-temporal fire pattern heterogeneity is implicit to heterogeneous savannas, even under largely homogenizing fire policies. Management should be informed by these patterns, embracing the natural heterogeneity-producing template. We therefore suggest that management actions will be better directed when operating at appropriate scales, nested within the broader implicit landscape patterns, and when focusing on fire regime parameters over which they have more influence (e.g. fire season). en_US
dc.description.librarian hb2014 en_US
dc.description.uri http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1600-0587 en_US
dc.identifier.citation Smit, IPJ, Smit, CF, Govender, N, Van der Linde, M & MacFadyen, S 2013, 'Rainfall, geology and landscape position generate large-scale spatiotemporal fire pattern heterogeneity in an African savanna', Ecograph, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 447-457. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0906-7590 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1600-0587 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.07555.x
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/42439
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Wiley en_US
dc.rights © 2012 The Authors. Ecography © 2012 Nordic Society Oikos. Journal compilation © 2010 Ecography. This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article : Rainfall, geology and landscape position generate large-scale spatiotemporal fire pattern heterogeneity in an African savannah, Ecography, vol.36, no. 4, pp. 447-457, 2013. doi : 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.07555.x. The definite version is available at : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1600-0587. en_US
dc.subject Rainfall en_US
dc.subject Geology en_US
dc.subject Landscape position en_US
dc.subject African savanna en_US
dc.subject Fire patterns en_US
dc.subject Kruger National Park, South Africa en_US
dc.title Rainfall, geology and landscape position generate large-scale spatiotemporal fire pattern heterogeneity in an African savanna en_US
dc.type Postprint Article en_US


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