The forests we walk through today are not the same as the ones that existed hundreds of years ago. Human activities such as agriculture, development, and logging have changed them. Fire, or really the lack of it, also changed forests, to the detriment of some species like Oaks and Pines.
Can we use fire to turn back time, bring forests closer to their original state, and maintain these ecosystems over the long term?
Previous studies show mixed results depending upon when, how often, how severe and in what season a prescribed burn was conducted. Anthony Zhao, a master’s degree student in geography, in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is using computer model simulations to try to get a clearer answer to this question with his master’s research project, “Modeling Prescribed Fire Effects on Vegetation Dynamics in Pitch Pine and Mixed-Oak Forests.”