New game of Russian roulette for fire-prone ecosystems, UB Now

Hot and dry weather after wildfires causes loss of plant diversity.

Increasing prolonged periods of severe hot and dry weather during the first summer after wildfires is inhibiting vegetation recovery and causing loss of plant diversity, according to a new international study on climate change.

The importance of fire in sustaining and even enhancing natural systems has long been known, but the cycle of regeneration is being negatively impacted by climate change in some ecosystems, the researchers say.

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, are a concern for fire-prone ecosystems around the world, including regions of the United States such as California, along with forest areas of the West and Southeast.

“Fire is a natural process in many ecosystems. But some biodiversity hotspots, like southern Africa, are imperiled due to increasingly common drought-like conditions that limit the ability of plants to regrow after fire,” says Adam Wilson, assistant professor of geography in the UB College of Arts of Sciences and a co-author of the study.

Published April 21, 2017

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