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Influence of fire severity on plant regeneration by means of remote sensing imagery

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In this paper we analyse the interactions between fire severity (plant damage) and plant regeneration after fire by means of remote sensing imagery and a field fire severity map. A severity map was constructed over a large fire (2692 ha) occurring in July 1994 in the Barcelona province (north-east of Spain). Seven severity classes were assigned to the apparent plant damage as a function of burning intensity. Several Landsat TM and MSS images from dates immediately before and after the fire were employed to monitor plant regeneration processes as well as to evaluate the relationship with fire severity observed in situ. Plant regeneration was monitored using NDVI measurements (average class values standardized with neighbour unburned control plots). Pre-fire NDVI measurements were extracted for every plant cover category (7), field fire severity class (7), and spatial cross-tabulation of both layers (33) and compared to post-fire values. NDVI decline due to fire was positively correlated with field fire severity class. Results show different patterns of recovery for each dominant species, severity class and combination of both factors. For all cases a significant negative correlation was found between damage and regeneration ability. This work leads to a better understanding of the influence of severity, a major fire regime parameter on plant regeneration, and may aid to manage restoration on areas burned under different fire severity levels.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: CREAF, Fac. Ciencias 2: Departament de Geografia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 08193, Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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