SERI Fire: Research Initiative Seeks Innovation through Collaboration

Bren Professors Sarah Anderson, Andrew Plantinga, and Naomi Tague lead an interdisciplinary team in pursuit of new strategies for managing wildfire under conditions of climate change.

In the past few decades, evolving wildfire science has shifted away from employing “fire suppression” as a one-size-fits-all fire-management strategy.

Recent ecological research highlights how changes in climate and land-management practices can affect fire regimes and their impacts.

Selecting the “right” fire management strategy when multiple variables are at play is a complex process requiring the integration of new fire science and new environmental considerations. While the ecology of fire in the western U.S. has been studied extensively, there is a dearth of information about how humans, particularly those residing at the wildland-urban interface, influence and respond to wildfire, and how institutional barriers may hinder effective fire management.

Overarching Research Questions


How do fuel treatments alter ecosystem services for a “patch” and across a watershed. Ecosystem services include water provision, carbon sequestration, mortality, fire risk, and reservoir sedimentation.

A key point for the initiative is that we seek to consider ecosystem services immediately after a disturbance (fire, fuel treatments) and during the recovery period – therefore, we must account for inter-annual climate variation and change

Social Science

How does salience (as a control on when and where fuel treatments occur) influence ecosystem services? We investigate this question by comparing estimation of ecosystem services (water, carbon, fire and mortality risk) at decadal time scales for scenarios where
a) fuel treatments “optimize” particular services
b) there are no fuel treatments
c) fuel treatments are salience-driven