Dr. Flower is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies department at Western Washington University. She uses dendrochronology, GIS, and quantitative methods to study the role of climatic variability, human land use patterns, and natural disturbances in shaping forest ecosystem dynamics.
Fires and Insect Outbreaks:
What Can Tree Rings Tell Us About Synergy Between Forest Disturbances?
The assumption that insect outbreaks increase the risk of subsequent wildfires is a commonly invoked narrative and is often used in justifications for more intensive forest management practices. However, little is actually known about the potential synergisms between these natural disturbances. Assessing inter-disturbance synergism is challenging due to the short length of historical records and the confounding influences of land use practices, such as fire exclusion and logging, and climatic changes on natural disturbance dynamics. To explore the long-term validity of this assumption, I used dendrochronological methods to reconstruct multiple centuries of disturbance events and assessed the relationship between disturbances, climate, and changes in land-use practices.
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