Impacts of Wildfire and Climate on Ecosystem Services in Southern California: Tool Development and Data Needs
Principal Investigator: Emma Underwood, Ph.D.
Project Partners: Hugh Safford, Ph.D.
Institution: University of California, Davis
Project Type: General
Grant Award #8GG18803
Amount awarded: $285,599
Award Date: September 2018
Our CalFire-funded project had two objectives: first, to increase our understanding of the biomass/carbon in southern California’s shrublands and second, to advance the development of an online web mapping tool for resource managers. Our primary research accomplishment is the development of a model to estimate aboveground live biomass for shrublands in southern California (both federal and non-federal lands), which shows improved accuracy over existing statewide and global biomass data. By updating input data on precipitation and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index at regular intervals, the model can be re-run to track the recovery of biomass post-fire or post management activity. In addition, we researched other biomass/carbon pools in the literature, tailored by shrub life history type (resprouter, seeder, or facultative seeder) and soil, to provide a comprehensive estimate of the biomass/carbon of shrublands. We also compiled data and methods to assess the impacts of wildfire on the different pools of biomass/carbon. These research components informed the advancement of our online web mapping tool (the SoCal EcoServe tool) which allows resource managers and conservation practitioners to assess the impacts of wildfire on a suite of ecosystem services (water runoff, groundwater recharge, sediment erosion, biomass, recreation, and biodiversity) in southern California. Our project has involved collaboration with scientists in the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, the Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center, and researchers at San Diego State University and the Connecting Wildlands and Communities project. The proposed project directly contributes to Forest Health Grant priorities (FY2018-2019) of ‘post-wildfire impacts and recovery’ (no. 3) and ‘ecological implications of increased use of prescribed fire’, and indirectly to ‘future forest resilience in an altered climate’ (no. 5).
- The Impacts of Climate Change on Ecosystem Services in Southern California published article https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/59322
- New Biomass Estimates for Shrubland Dominated Southern California Landscapes published article https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13081581
- Presentation at International Association of Landscape Ecologists (2020) New Biomass Estimates for Chaparral in Southern California.
- Presentation at Natural Areas Conference (2020) Emma Underwood, Estimating the Impacts of Wildfire on Ecosystem Services in Southern California.
- Special issue on Earth Observations for Biodiversity and Ecosystems of Mediterranean-Type Climate Regions’ https://www.mdpi.com/journal/remotesensing/special_issues/Mediterranean_Type_Climate_Regions
- SoCal EcoServe tool: https://manzanita.forestry.oregonstate.edu/EcoServeHome/
- Project website: https://socalecosystemservices.ucdavis.edu/
- Podcast interview on on climate change and shrubland carbon: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/podcasts/unfold/california-wildfires-climate-change