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Fuels and Fire at Savanna-Gallery Forest Boundaries in Southeastern Venezuela

Jason Biddulph and Martin Kellman
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 14, No. 4 (Jul., 1998), pp. 445-461
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2559877
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Fuels and Fire at Savanna-Gallery Forest Boundaries in Southeastern Venezuela
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Abstract

Factors contributing to the resistance of gallery forests in savannas to the entry of fire were investigated using field observations and manipulation experiments. Mass of savanna fuels did not decrease close to forest boundaries, and in some instances increased, while savanna fuels adjacent to forests were moister than in the savanna beyond for only 1 d after rainfall. A fuel drying experiment conducted in both forest and savanna microclimates indicated that both fuel type and microclimate contributed to the resistance of forests to fire entry, although the former played a larger role. While savanna fuels in a savanna microclimate became ignitable in c. 1 d after rain, forest fuels in a forest microclimate required 4 wk to achieve ignitability. A further experiment juxtaposing forest fuels to burning savanna indicated that fire entry into forests was faciliated by deep root mats and the presence of a superficial litter layer, both of which become attenuated at the forest/savanna contact. It is concluded that fuels in these forests can reach an ignitable state late in the dry season, but that frequent fire entry is probably precluded by the tendency of savanna fires to occur earlier in the dry season and by discontinuities in fuels at the savanna/forest contact.

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