Post-fire Tree Mortality

Delayed Tree Mortality Following Fire in Western Conifers

Accurate prediction of post-fire tree mortality is critical for making sound land management decisions such as developing burning prescriptions and post-fire salvage marking guidelines. Numerous post-fire mortality models have been developed for western U.S. conifers. Post-fire tree mortality models use a multitude of crown, bole, and root injury variables to predict mortality. This lack of standardized methods makes model comparison difficult and hard for managers to know what variables best predict mortality. We pooled data amassed from numerous post-fire tree mortality studies across the western U.S. in order to:

1) Assess the predictive accuracy of the tree mortality models currently used in FOFEM, BehavePlus, and FFE-FVS both at the stand and individual tree level,

2) Assess the relationship between the Ryan (1982) bark char codes and cambium status (live/dead) to determine when it is appropriate to use bark char codes in place of direct sampling, and

3) Develop new 3-year post-fire mortality models to improve the predictive accuracy of FOFEM and BehavePlus.


Ponderosa pine trees with crown scorch from a wildfire.

Select Publications & Products

The new models are in FOFEM version 5.7 ( and BehavePlus.

Hood, S. M., S. Smith, and D. Cluck. 2010. Predicting tree mortality for five California conifers following wildfire. Forest Ecology and Management 260:750-762.

Hood, S. M.; Cluck, D. R.; Smith, S. L.; Ryan, K. C. 2008. Using bark char codes to predict post-fire cambium mortality. Fire Ecology. 4: 57-73.

Hood, S. M. 2008. Delayed Tree Mortality following Fire in Western Conifers. JFSP Final Report 05-2-1-105, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, MT. 35 p. Final Report: Delayed Tree Mortality following Fire in Western Conifers JFSP # 05-2-1-105

Hood, S. M.; McHugh, C.; Ryan, K. C.; Reinhardt, E.; Smith, S. L. 2007. Evaluation of a post-fire tree mortality model for western US conifers. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 16: 679-689.


Delayed Tree Mortality Following Fire in Western Conifers