Live fuel moisture content (LFMC) is a critical component of vegetation flammability, yet our capacity to model seasonal and spatial fluctuations in FMC within and across species for fire management is limited. Current LFMC models largely focus on changes to the water content of foliage alone, using remote sensing or drought indices as proxies for plant water status. However, living vegetation regulates biomass and water content actively through processes including photosynthesis and transpiration, thus flammability is a function of both water- and carbon cycles. Focusing only on water content omits decades of ecophysiology, phenology, and trait-based ecology knowledge that describes vegetation dynamics.
In this seminar, we will discuss the development of a mechanistic live fuel moisture model that accounts for changes in plant water status and biomass and demonstrate its performance using field-collected conifer and shrub data.
To date, our capacity to model inter- and intra-species variations in flammability at temporal and spatial scales relevant to ecosystem management has been limited. Understanding the relative contribution of water and carbon-cycle dynamics is a critical step in understanding vegetation flammability across diverse ecosystems, which will be increasing important under climate change. This seminar will provide a framework for combining carbon- and water-cycle dynamics to characterize LFMC for the purpose of understanding landscape fire risk to communities and ecosystems.