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Wildfire

The Nature Of Wildfire, Post-fire Succession, Management Of Fires

Wildfire is a periodic ecological disturbance, associated with the rapid combustion of much of the biomass of an ecosystem. Once ignited by lightning or by humans, the biomass oxidizes as an uncontrolled blaze, until the fire either runs out of fuel or is quenched. Wildfire is best known as a force affecting forests, although savanna, chaparral, prairie, and tundra also burn. A large wildfire can kill mature trees over an extensive area, after which a process of ecological recovery ensures, called secondary succession. Fire can be an important factor affecting the nature of ecological communities. In the absence of wildfire or other catastrophic disturbances, relatively stable, climax communities tend to develop on the landscape, the nature of which is determined by climate, soil, and the participating biota. However, intervening wildfires can arrest this process, so that the climax or other late-successional communities are not reached.


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