The onset of fire exclusion in the western United States began one of the largest and most effective landscape ecology experiments in human history. Structural and species changes to forests of western North America have transformed how these ecosystems now respond to natural and anthropogenic disturbances and may contribute to recent trends of more frequent high-severity wildfires and insect outbreaks.
Semi-arid forests are in a period of rapid transition as a result of unprecedented landscape scale fires, insect outbreaks, drought, and anthropogenic land use practices. Understanding how historically episodic disturbances led to coherent forest structural and spatial patterns that promoted resilience and resistance is a critical part of addressing change. Here I apply metabolic scaling theory (MST) to examine scaling behavior and structural patterns of semi-arid conifer forests in Arizona and New Mexico.