Fire refugia important after wildfires

Forest fires leave fire refugia behind, which is beneficial to many species after fires. ©Coconino National Forest

While forest fires have burned extensively this year throughout the West, even the biggest blazes can leave behind hidden pockets of unharmed landscape. Researchers say these areas of unburned or less damaged trees, shrubs and grass —known as fire refugia — are important to species that are vulnerable after fires. That includes northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina), which struggle after forest fires and rely on remaining shelter from western hemlock and Pacific silver fir. Scientists in a recent study characterized these fire refugia over space and time to help understand the role they play, particularly “in the context of global change.”

Read more in The New York Times or read the study in Bioscience.