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Phenology of Fire: Listening to the Plants and Animals

PANEL DISCUSSION: Thursday, January 18, 2024 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET

Season of fire. Opening the burn window. Both of these focus on one of the elements that make up a fire regime – frequency, intensity/severity, extent/scale, and seasonality. Decades of spring-and/or autumn-centric fire can cause a site or landscape to respond very differently than when burned repeatedly across all flammable seasons. Summer burns can produce differing fire effects including increased species richness averages, biomass, and stem counts (especially forbs), and breaking up the plant species dominance resulting from dormant season burn windows. Our panelists will bring fresh voices to how we can learn from listening to our fire-dependent plants and animals and let the fire effects lead us toward desired outcomes.

This panel discussion has been approved for 1.5 Category 1 CFE's by the Society of American Foresters.


Photo Credit: Jack McGowan-Stinski, Lake States Fire Science Consortium


Dr. Brian Sturtevant (Moderator)
Dr. Brian Sturtevant is a Research (Landscape) Ecologist with Northern Research Station of the US Forest Service in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where he has worked for 21 years.  His expertise lies in broad-scale interdisciplinary investigations of forest dynamics and disturbance ecology, with an emphasis on fire and insect disturbance, using a combination of field study, analyses of spatial datasets, and landscape simulation modeling.  His specific fire expertise includes human drivers of fire ignitions, fire severity assessments and mapping, and vegetative response to both wildfire and controlled burning. He also serves on the advisory board and technical committee for the landscape disturbance and succession model, LANDIS-II.

Dr. Todd Aschenbach (Panelist)
Dr. Todd Aschenbach is a professor of natural resources management at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan. His teaching and research interests focus on wildland fire and ecological restoration. He also works as an on-call wildland firefighter for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and conducts wildfire research with the US Forest Service’s Fire Behavior Assessment Team.

Tyler Briggs (Panelist)
Tyler Briggs works as the Fire Manager for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.  He has been with the Commission since 2011.  He is an NWCG Type 2 Burn Boss, Incident Commander Type 4, as well as an Engine, Crew and Firing Boss.  He earned a Master’s degree in Geography from the University at Albany and a BS in Geography from SUNY Oneonta.  Tyler is a native of Cuylerville, NY where he attended York Central School.

Dr. Donald Hagan (Panelist)
Dr. Donald Hagan (he/him/his) is an applied ecologist who studies the effects of fire on population, community and ecosystem-level processes in forest ecosystems. He conducts most of his research in the southern Appalachian and Piedmont regions, but he has also worked extensively in the SE Coastal Plain, Florida, the Northern Great Plains, and in the tropical dry forests of coastal Ecuador. Current research projects are supported by the Joint Fire Science Program, the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Department of Energy. Hagan is passionate about teaching and mentoring and is heavily involved with Clemson's Creative Inquiry undergraduate research program. He also works closely with the "Fire Tigers" -- Clemson's wildland and prescribed fire crew. Since 2015 he has served on the board of the Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists.

Mary Parr (Panelist)
Mary Parr is an Indigenous woman, fire practitioner, land steward, and graduate student. Parr is the Stewardship Manager for Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, an environmental education center and biological field station located in Southwest, MI. Parr manages 850 acres, coordinates conservation efforts, leads the prescribed fire program, and mentors undergraduate students. Concurrently, Parr is completing her Masters in Biology at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, studying plant community response to fire season and order of application in prairies and savannas of the Great Lakes Basin. Parr is a tribal member of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.


Matt Vaughan (Panelist)
Matt (he/him/his) is a Wildland Fire Ecologist & Practitioner who recently started in a new position as Director of Stewardship and Forestry Education with Forest Stewards & Western Carolina University based in Cullowhee, NC USA. His background is in biogeography, fire history, and fire ecology, exploring basic and applied questions of fire effects on fuels and vegetation. He is currently pursuing projects with partners engaged in active forest management, especially involving low-shade removal (herbicide treatment) and monitoring prescribed fire effects on partner lands in the Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network.

Our Panel

List of resources shared during the discussion:

  • Coming Soon

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