- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Agriculture, forestry, and soils - general
- Fire and disturbance ecology
Fire and disturbance ecology
Walsh, Megan Department of Geography, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington.
Last reviewed:June 2019
Show previous versions
- Fire behavior
- Fire regimes
- Fire's abiotic effects
- Fire's biotic effects
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The branch of ecology that studies the environmental changes that occur in ecosystems in relation to fire. Disturbance is a major environmental influence in many of Earth's ecosystems. Vital to the healthy functioning of forests, savannas, shrublands, and grasslands, disturbance provides both temporal and spatial variability within an ecosystem, often leading to greater levels of biodiversity (Fig. 1). A natural disturbance, which can be abiotic (such as a fire, flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, tropical cyclone, windstorm, snow or debris avalanche, ice storm, etc.) or biotic (such as an insect and pathogen outbreak, animal herbivory, predation, etc.), typically occurs during a relatively discrete period of time and changes the structure, composition, and/or functioning of an ecosystem. Disturbances and their effects vary widely and are described using three scales: a temporal scale (how long a disturbance persists and how often it reoccurs), a spatial scale (how much geographic area is affected by a disturbance), and a magnitude scale (how intense a disturbance is, and as a result, how severe and long-lasting the impacts are on the landscape). See also: Ecology; Ecosystem; Forest; Grassland ecosystem; Herbivory; Savanna; Terrestrial ecosystem
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information