Connecting Research Methods to Fire Management Decisions

New Webinar Series: Connecting Research Methods to Fire Management Decisions

Presentations in this webinar series emphasize work by fire ecologists and research-management partnerships. Researchers will address fire effects and implications for land managers, as well as describing hypotheses, experimental designs, and methods which could be adapted for future applied fire ecology research.

Land managers and other fire practitioners across the Upper Midwest recognize fire is a critical process in local ecosystems. They also recognize that a complex array of factors determine whether burn plans and application of fire will meet burn objectives and conservation goals. The outcomes of using fire at a particular place are determined by many abiotic factors, as well as direct and indirect impacts on native and exotic organisms. Consequently, land managers cannot always readily apply the results of fire research which uses fire as a categorical variable (burned/unburned or frequency of burns).

However, many fire ecology research methods have been developed to investigate how abiotic and biotic factors influence the effects of a prescribed fire and the longer term fire regime. The presentations in this series are intended to help inform fire management decisions as well as contribute to the development of fire ecology research in the Midwest.

Presentation 1 – Feb. 19, 2019, 2-3 PM Central

Fire Science Literacy: How to better understand and communicate the wildland fire environment


Devan Allen McGranahan, Assistant Professor of Range Science, North Dakota State University.

Carissa L. Wonkka, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Nebraska

Presentation summary

The wildland fire environment is complex, with fire behavior and fire effects depending on interactions between fuels, management history, and weather patterns beginning days and weeks before a burn. Thus it can be difficult to extrapolate results or observations from one fire to another, or anticipate how a given fire might behave or affect organisms in the burn unit. We have developed a framework for wildland fire education, research, and communication that promotes Wildland Fire Literacy--a basic, shared understanding of important components of the wildland fire environment and how they relate to fire regimes in our modern socio-ecological context. In this presentation we will walk through the critical aspects of fuels, weather, and fire behavior fire scientists and practitioners alike should be comfortable thinking out, observing, and communicating to others in the community. We believe this shared language will not only help relate fire weather conditions to fire behavior, and ultimately better explain fire effects, but also help fire planners identify ideal conditions to achieve desired outcomes.

You can read the presenters' paper on wildland fire literacy for free.

Presentation 2 – March 6, 2019, 12-1 PM Central

The Danger of an Overly-Precise Burn Prescription:
Re-visiting perspectives and knowledge gaps on fire and which factors to consider for measuring success



Nathan Holoubek, Wildlife Biologist, Wisconsin DNR

Presentation summary

Prescribed fire is vital to maintaining and promoting many of our highest value cover types in the Midwest. However, we must avoid over-prescribing burn plans and acknowledge that there is much to learn about what factors best predict the success of a given fire for burn planning and monitoring. We will discuss which factors mattered, and which didn’t, for brush control in over 56 prescribed burns in Wisconsin.

We will specifically cover:
•    Perspectives on our understanding of natural fire regimes
•    How standard modeling compares to measured fuels and fire behavior
•    What fire behavior metrics mattered most for brush control
•    Realistic expectations in prescribing burn day conditions in this region
•    What to consider looking at in a prescribed fire monitoring program


This webinar will expand upon research presented at the 2018 Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference (a PDF copy of that presentation can be downloaded from the Midwest Invasive Plant Network - Impacts of Prescribed Fire Intensity and Seasonality on Woody Vegetation).


Archived: Prescribed Fire Effects on Oak Timber Value

Prescribed Fire Effects on Oak Timber Value

July 20

Presenter: Joe Marschall, University of Missouri Tree-Ring Lab

Coauthors: Michael Stambaugh, Benjamin Knapp

Throughout much of the eastern U.S., prescribed fire is increasingly being applied to manage oak communities including glades, savannas, woodlands, and forests. Prescribed fire can be effective for decreasing woody stems, consuming fuels, opening forest canopies, promoting fire-tolerant tree and shade-intolerant herbaceous species, and restoring plant and animal species of conservation concern. Along with increased use, prescribed burn unit sizes have also trended upward (i.e., landscape-scale), and consequently, fires more frequently burn across sites containing merchantable trees with significant timber product value. Currently, there is much debate about whether applying prescribed fire and managing for timber products are mutually exclusive practices.

This webinar will discuss recent studies from Missouri that have evaluated fire effects on oak timber values. Fire effects will be considered at multiple scales: 1) damage to residual trees, and 2) changes in stand volume and species composition.

Examples of integration of prescribed fire and timber management practices will be provided and a framework for evaluating compatibility of these seemingly competing management objectives will be discussed.

To view the recording there are two options:

1) Register using this link:

2) Or stream through the consortium's Vimeo page, where you can find this talk and more on oak savanna and woodland management.


Archived: Managing Oak Ecosystems with Fire in the Eastern U.S. 

Managing Oak Ecosystems with Fire in the Eastern U.S.

July 16, 1-2 pm Central

Presenter: Dan Dey, research forester, US Forest Service Northern Research Station

Sustaining oak forests and restoring oak savannas and woodlands are increasingly common management goals in the Midwest and Great Lakes Regions. Sustaining oak forests requires successful regeneration and recruitment into the overstory. The regeneration potential of oak following a disturbance or harvest that initiates stand regeneration is determined largely by the size structure of oak before the event. Collectively, regeneration from (1) seed, (2) advance reproduction, and (3) stump sprouts contribute to oak regeneration but vary in their competitive capacity. Oak regeneration potential is modified by site, competitor regeneration potential and management input.


Prescribed fire is increasingly being used to promote oak regeneration with mixed results, and it is required to restore oak savannas and woodlands. Oak has many silvical traits that make it well adapted to fire. Fire can promote oak regeneration, but it also can reduce it, promote competing vegetation including invasive species, and retard oak recruitment into the overstory. Fire is a tool that can be used to sustain oak forests if it is applied judiciously with knowledge of oak forest ecology and stand dynamics, and with basic forest inventory information. Combining prescribed fire with thinning or harvesting can be effective in increasing oak regeneration potential and dominance in future stands, and it is a good approach to accelerating the restoration of oak savannas and woodlands.

There are two options to view this recorded webinar: 
2) Or stream through the consortium's Vimeo page, where you can find this talk and more on oak savanna and woodland management.


This white oak seedling germinated at the workshop site in the fall of 2017.


Archived Webinar: Finding the Best Science Available on Fire Ecology and Fire Regimes in Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Woodland Ecosystems

A recording of this webinar is available to stream via the Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium Adobe Connect site.


Finding the Best Science Available on Fire Ecology and Fire Regimes in Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Woodland Ecosystems

Robin Innes and Ilana Abrahamson
US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station
This webinar was held on November 15, 2016.  

Managers and planners need scientifically sound information on historical fire regimes and contemporary changes in fuels and fire regimes in tallgrass prairie and oak woodland ecosystems to make informed management decisions. To address this need, two new fire regime publications—Fire Regime Reports and Fire Regime Syntheses—are now available and spatially searchable in the recently updated user interface for the Fire Effects Information System (FEIS, FEIS staff defined 185 fire regimes by grouping the ~2,500 Biophysical Settings (BpS) models produced by LANDFIRE ( according to similarities in vegetation, modeled fire-return intervals and fire severities, and geographic location. Fire Regime Reports are brief summaries of these models, while Fire Regime Syntheses add comprehensive, thoroughly documented reviews of the scientific literature to information in the Fire Regime Reports. Fire Regime Syntheses provide managers with the best science available on historical fire frequency, spatial pattern, extent, and seasonality; historical ignition sources; and typical patterns of fire intensity and severity. They also provide information on contemporary changes in fuels, especially in relation to their potential to influence fire regimes, and identify regions and plant communities lacking fire history data. Together, these publications help managers develop plans and make informed decisions about local management of fire and fuels. In the updated user interface, they are easy to access using a variety of search criteria, including plant community type and map location, and they are linked to nearly 1,100 FEIS Species Reviews.



Archived Webinar - State Fire Needs Assessments and LANDFIRE: A Case Study

A recording of this 43 minute presentation is available to stream or download from our Vimeo page

State Fire Needs Assessments and LANDFIRE: A Case Study

Sarah Hagen, TNC-LANDFIRE spatial analyst, discussed a statewide assessment of vegetation and prescribed fire management in Illinois.

View or download a copy of the Illinois Fire Needs Assessment (published Feb. 2016).

Check out LANDFIRE's Youtube channel - LANDFIREvideo - where you can stream a recording of this webinar, view other recordings and videos, and subscribe to the channel.