Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-285
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-285

  13 Oct 2021

13 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Global assessment and mapping of ecological vulnerability to wildfires

Fátima Arrogante-Funes, Inmaculada Aguado, and Emilio Chuvieco Fátima Arrogante-Funes et al.
  • Universidad de Alcalá, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Departamento de Geografía, Geología y Medio Ambiente, Área de Geografía, GITA, C/Colegios 2, 2881, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, España

Abstract. Fire is a natural phenomenon that has played a critical role in transforming the environment and maintaining biodiversity at a global scale. However, the plants in some habitats have not developed strategies for recovery from fire or have not adapted to the changes taking place in their fire regimes. Maps showing ecological vulnerability to fires could contribute to environmental management policies in the face of global change scenarios. The main objective of this study is to assess and map ecological vulnerability to fires on a global scale. To this end, we created ecological value and post-fire regeneration delay indices on the basis of existing global databases. Two ecological value indices were identified: biological distinction and conservation status. For the post-fire regeneration delay index, various factors were taken into account, including the type of fire regime, the increase in the frequency and intensity of forest fires and the potential soil erosion they can cause. These indices were combined by means of a qualitative cross-tabulation to create a new index evaluating ecological vulnerability to fire. The results showed that global ecological value could be reduced by as much as 50 %, due to fire perturbation of ecosystems that are poorly adapted to it. The terrestrial biomes most affected are the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest; tundra; mangroves; tropical and subtropical coniferous forests; and tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests.

Fátima Arrogante-Funes et al.

Status: open (until 24 Nov 2021)

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Fátima Arrogante-Funes et al.

Fátima Arrogante-Funes et al.

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Short summary
Our findings showed that ecological value might be reduced by 50 % due to the fire perturbation in the ecosystem, low adapted to it and degraded fire-regime. The biomes most affected are the tropical and subtropical forests, tundra and mangroves. The integration of biotic and abiotic , fire regime and regeneration factors resulted in a powerfull way to develop mapping ecological vulnerability to fire and assessment in order to generate adaptation plans of management in forest masses.
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