Fire, Climate, and Forests


Faculty and Post-Doctoral Researchers

Peter Z. Fulé, Ph.D., Professor (Google Scholar)
Amanda B. Stan, Ph.D., Lecturer (Google Scholar)
Larissa L. Yocom, Ph.D., Research Associate  (Google Scholar)
William Flatley, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Scholar (Google Scholar)
Blanca Céspedes González, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Scholar (Google Scholar)
Field Work in Coahuila Mexico
Field work in Couhuila, Mexico

Graduate Students

Haydee Hampton (Ph.D.)
Suzanne Owen (Ph.D.)
Lionel Whitehair (M.S.)
Jaime Yazzie (M.S.)
Alicia Azpeleta (Ph.D.)
Henry Grover (Ph.D.)

Undergraduate Students

Sam Ebright (B.S.)
Thallita da Silva Mendes (B.S.)

  • Sarah Auerbach, M.F. (2015) One Spark Is All It Takes: A Qualitative Analysis of the Experiences of Firewise Community Representatives in New Mexico.
  • Rachel A.S. Sheridan, M.S., Peace Corps Masters International (2014). Using a socio-ecological systems framework to develop a community fire plan in rural Mexico.
  • Marvin Victor, Jr., M.F. (2014) Fire management of the San Carlos Apache Tribe: a case study in southeastern Arizona.
  • Wanda Bruhns, M.F., Peace Corps Master International (2013). Measuring reforestation success in the Sierra Gordo Guanajuato Biosphere Reserve, Mexico.
  • Kathryn Ireland, Ph.D. (2013). Response of fire regimes and ponderosa pine and aspen forest communities to climate, Arizona.
  • Kristen L. Shive, M.S. (2011). Pre-fire treatments have persistent effects on post-fire plant communities
  • Alicia Azpeleta Tarancón, Máster en Gestión y Restauración del Medio Natural, Universidad de Alicante, Spain (co-tutor w/ Jordi Cortina, 2012). Simulando trayectorias de sucesión post-incendio bajo alternativas de clima y gestión: caso de estudio Bosque Nacional de Apache-Sitgreaves, Arizona
  • Valerie Kurth, Ph.D. (2011). Long-term effects of stand-replacing wildfires on nutrient cycling and decomposition in southwestern ponderosa pine forests.
  • Larissa Yocom, Ph.D. (2011). Influence of climate and local factors on fire in high-elevation forests of Mexico.
  • Citlali Cortés Moñtano, Ph.D. (2011). The treasure of the Sierra Madre: ecology of old-growth forests in Chihuahua, México.
  • Kristen Honig, M.S. (2010). Simulating the effects of climate change and ecological restoration on wildfire behavior in southwestern ponderosa pine forests.
  • Corinne Diggins, M.S. (2010). Modeling forest change, bird communities, and management alternatives on a restored ponderosa pine ecosystem.
  • Donna Peppin, M.S. (2009). Evidence-based review of seeding in post-fire rehabilitation and native plant market feasibility.
  • Ken Stella, M.S. (2009). Effects and effectiveness of seeding following high-severity wildfire in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests.
  • Matt Tuten (Geography, 2008). Comparing ecological restoration and northern goshawk management guidelines treatments in a southwestern ponderosa pine forest.
  • Amanda Kuenzi, M.S. (2006). Pre-fire treatment effects and understory plant community response on the Rodeo-Chediski fire, Arizona.
  • John Paul Roccaforte, M.S. (2005). Monitoring landscape-scale forest structure and fire behavior changes following ponderosa pine restoration treatments.
  • M. David Passovoy, M.S. (2005). Snag and woody debris dynamics following severe wildfires in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests.
  • Ethan Barnes, M.S. (2005). Smoke, risk, and intergenerational equity in Flagstaff, Arizona’s wildland-urban interface.
  • Barb Strom, M.S. (2005). Pre-fire treatment effects and post-fire forest dynamics on the Rodeo-Chediski burn area, Arizona.
  • Zak Meier, M.S. (Environmental Science and Policy, 2005).
  • Maurice Huynh, M.F. (2005). Assessment of various methods of canopy cover estimation that yield accurate results with field repeatability.
  • Joseph Crouse, M.S. (2005). Fuels and fire behavior modeling using remotely sensed data on the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.
  • Megan (Van Horne) Date, M.S. (2005). Comparing methods of reconstructing fire history using fire scars in a southwestern ponderosa pine forest.
  • Rita Reisor Dodge, M.S. (2004). Dalmation toadflax (Linaria damatica) response to wildfire and native species regeneration in ponderosa pine forest.
  • Allison Cocke, M.S. (2004). Fire exclusion and burn severity on the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.
  • Marta Fisher, M.S. (2004). Plant and plant-mycorrhizal interactions across an elevation gradient on the San Francisco Peaks.
  • Ann Roberts, M.S. ( 2003). Ponderosa pine restoration treatment effects on pinyon mice and deer mice in northwestern Arizona.
  • Cara (Gildar) MacMillan, M.S. (2002). Plant community and arbuscular mycorrhizal dynamics have implications for determining ponderosa pine reference conditions.
  • Adrien Elseroad, M.S. (2001). Forest roads in northern Arizona: recovery after closure and revegetation techniques.


Adapting Forest Ecosystems on Southwestern Tribal Lands to Variations in Climate and Fire

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Northwest View Prospect Point
Northwest view from Prospect Point, Hualapai tribal lands
Investigators: Amanda B. Stan, Peter Z. Fulé, Kathryn B. Ireland

Description: Compared with public lands, tribal lands in the southwestern US have received limited research attention. As a result, tribal societies and resources are in a vulnerable position as climate warms and large knowledge gaps exist that will adversely affect people’s ability to plan for changes to ecosystems across the region as a whole. This project seeks to link research on forest fire ecology with educational and extension activities to assist the Hualapai Tribe (Arizona) in adapting and managing forest ecosystems on their lands in the changing environment of the coming decades.

Funding: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Fire, Climate, and Forest Structure in Northern Mexico

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Fire Scarred Tree in Chihuahua
Fire-scarred pine tree in Chihuahua,
Investigators: Peter Z. Fulé, Larissa L. Yocom, Citlali Cortés Montaño, Isaac Bickford, Christen Irby, Joe Smithson, Donald A. Falk (U. Arizona), Peter M. Brown (Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research), José Villanueva (Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Argícolas, y Pecuarias), Eladio Cornejo (Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro).

Description: Are fire regimes regulated from the top down, by continental-scale climatic phenomena, or from the bottom up, by site-specific fuel, topography, and ignition characteristics? We are developing new networks of long fire and climate chronologies together with fuel dynamics in northern Mexico, incorporating a subset of unique relict sites where fire regimes and forest structures are least perturbed by human impacts over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The research benefits both Mexico and the US.

Funding: National Science Foundation.

Successional trajectories after high-severity wildfire

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Fire Severity Rodeo-Chediski
Fire severity image of the Rodeo-Chediski fire
Investigators: Kristen L. Shive, Peter Z. Fulé, Carolyn Hull Sieg (Rocky Mountain Research Station)

Description: In 2002, the Rodeo-Chediski fire burned 189,658 ha (468,638 acres) in northeastern Arizona. Although the fire was severe, its effects were mitigated in areas that had received pre-fire fuels reduction treatments. We are studying post-fire changes in plant communities, forest structure, and fuels over time, including simulation modeling of future conditions under climate change. Partners in the project include the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

Funding: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station; Joint Fire Science Program

Peace Corps Master’s International

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Peace Corps Volunteers
Peace Corps Volunteers in the Master´s International
Investigators: Wanda Bruhns, Rachel Sheridan

Description: The Peace Corps Master's International Program combines graduate study with Peace Corps Volunteer service. Wanda Bruhns is serving with the Reserva de la Biósfera Sierra Gorda, Guanajuato. Rachel Sheridan is serving in conservation and restoration of degraded lands with the Comisión Nacional Forestal in Tlaxcala.

Funding: U.S. Peace Corps

Vegetation and Fire Regime Response to Climate in Northern Arizona

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Katie Ireland in Burned Aspen Stand
Katie Ireland in burned aspen stand, Kaibab N.F.
Investigators: Kathryn B. Ireland, Peter Z. Fulé, Amanda B. Stan, Margaret M. Moore, Thomas J. Zegler, Robert E. Keane (Rocky Mountain Research Station)

Description: Vegetation patterns and their changes over time are shaped both by physical factors, such as climate and soils, and patterns of disturbance. As climate change progresses, vegetation patterns are expected to shift as species attempt to respond to the changing geographic location of the climatic conditions to which they are adapted. Because the frequency and severity of fire is influenced by plant species composition and patterns of fuel accumulation, shifts in vegetation patterns will interact with climatic changes to modify future fire regimes. This project is focused on understanding historical links between climatic conditions, forest fires, and forest communities and applying the knowledge gained from studying these links to model how changing climatic conditions are likely to affect both forests and wildfires in the future.

Funding: Science Foundation Arizona; Northern Arizona University’s School of Forestry Mission Research program (McIntire-Stennis); USDA Forest Service

Fire regimes and climate in Mediterranean forests (Spain and Greece)

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Old Pinus Nigra Forest
Old Pinus nigra forest on Mt. Taygetos, Greece
Investigators: Peter Z. Fulé, Ramón Vallejo (Universitat de Barcelona), Margarita Arianoutsou, Anastasia Christopoulous, Dimitris Sarris (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Description: Nations of the Mediterranean basin have experienced increasingly large and severe forest fires, similar to patterns seen elsewhere in Europe and in dry forests worldwide. We are working to develop a network of fire-climate sites using standardized and rigorous procedures to test hypotheses about climate drivers of fire and to measure changes in fire regimes over time. Findings will be useful for developing strategies to conserve native forests in the face of changing climate, and reduce the damage of severe wildfires

Funding: Forest fires under climate, social and economic changes in Europe, the Mediterranean and other fire-affected areas of the world (FUME), Seventh Framework Programme, European Union.

High-elevation fire regimes, Grand Canyon National Park

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Grand Canyon Fire
Grand Canyon fire (photo D. Binkley)
Investigators: Larissa L. Yocom, Peter Z. Fulé (NAU); Windy Bunn, Eric Gdula (Grand Canyon National Park)

Description: We are developing a quantitative assessment of the historical fire regime in high-elevation forests of Grand Canyon´s North Rim using a combination of existing data and efficient, selective collection of new data to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the best estimate of historic high-severity patch sizes, spatial arrangement, and temporal arrangement of fire dates in high elevation forests on the North Rim? (2) What is the current high-severity patch size distribution? (3) Under what climate and fire weather conditions were, and are, high-severity patches generated? (4) What management strategies would best promote the heterogeneity characteristic of this system while also promoting resiliency into the future

Funding: National Park Service, Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit

Landscape-scale Response to Changing Climate and Fire Regimes on the Kaibab Plateau

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LANDSAT Kaibab Plateau
LANDSAT image of the Kaibab Plateau
and Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona
(Source: Google Earth)
Investigators: William T. Flatley, Peter Z. Fulé, Larissa L. Yocom, Andrew J. Sánchez Meador, Amanda B. Stan

Description: The Kaibab Plateau of northern Arizona ranges in elevation from 1800 to 2800 meters. This elevation-climate gradient supports a diversity of forest community types including: pinyon-juniper, ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, aspen and spruce-fir. Shifting patterns of fire disturbance and land use history have imparted additional variability to forest composition and structure on the plateau. Our objective is to use this contemporary forest mosaic as a basis for simulation modeling of landscape-scale forest response to changing climate and fire regimes. We are particularly interested in identifying 1) key landscape processes that will drive future forest change and 2) management strategies that might aid in the conservation of threatened communities.

Funding: Northern Arizona University Technology and Research Initiative Fund, National Park Service, Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit