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Fires in Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest: Testing the Varying Constraints Hypothesis across a Regional Rainfall Gradient

Mondal, Nandita and Sukumar, Raman (2016) Fires in Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest: Testing the Varying Constraints Hypothesis across a Regional Rainfall Gradient. In: PLOS ONE, 11 (7).

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159691


The ``varying constraints hypothesis'' of fire in natural ecosystems postulates that the extent of fire in an ecosystem would differ according to the relative contribution of fuel load and fuel moisture available, factors that vary globally along a spatial gradient of climatic conditions. We examined if the globally widespread seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTFs) can be placed as a single entity in this framework by analyzing environmental influences on fire extent in a structurally diverse SDTF landscape in the Western Ghats of southern India, representative of similar forests in monsoonal south and southeast Asia. We used logistic regression to model fire extent with factors that represent fuel load and fuel moisture at two levels-the overall landscape and within four defined moisture regimes (between 700 and1700 mm yr(-1))-using a dataset of area burnt and seasonal rainfall from 1990 to 2010. The landscape scale model showed that the extent of fire in a given year within this SDTF is dependent on the combined interaction of seasonal rainfall and extent burnt the previous year. Within individual moisture regimes the relative contribution of these factors to the annual extent burnt varied-early dry season rainfall (i.e., fuel moisture) was the predominant factor in the wettest regime, while wet season rainfall (i.e., fuel load) had a large influence on fire extent in the driest regime. Thus, the diverse structural vegetation types associated with SDTFs across a wide range of rainfall regimes would have to be examined at finer regional or local scales to understand the specific environmental drivers of fire. Our results could be extended to investigating fire-climate relationships in STDFs of monsoonal Asia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: PLOS ONE
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 1160 BATTERY STREET, STE 100, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111 USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Division of Mechanical Sciences > Divecha Centre for Climate Change
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2016 09:26
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2016 09:26
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/55030

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