Investigating how fire leaves its mark on trees

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fires that injure a tree but do not kill it completely can leave distinctive wounds called fire scars in its wood. Because the fire scars are within the annual growth rings of the tree, tree-ring dating can determine the year and possibly even the season when the fire took place, so there are now long histories of the role of fire in various ecosystems, including the changes due to climate and human activities. A US Forest Service investigation including Don Falk of the LTRR and headed by Elaine Kennedy Sutherland has been looking more closely at the details of how fire scars form, and how the trees respond to the injury, inspired by the importance of fire scar chronologies for reconstructing past environments.