Thursday, August 5th, 2021
Free; Via Zoom; Registration required
Title: Quantifying the Effects of Land Use Change on Forests and Fire Regimes in Southern Canadian Rocky Mountains: 1610 CE-Present
Abstract: This work examines the effects of land use change in the Southern Canadian Rocky Mountains (SCRM) on forests and fire regimes from the 1600s to present. We begin by examining how the topographic environment has influenced geographic distributions of human land use in the SCRM via a least cost path (LCP) analysis. High densities of archaeological and historical sites clustered within 3km of our LCP model, verifying its predictive strength. Next, we used this LCP model to examine the relationship between land use intensity and human influence on fire regimes and fire synchrony based on dendrochronological evidence. We found that although the use of highly accessible, low travel cost areas persisted across all time periods, changes in cultural and demographic geography led to different influences on regional fire over time. Remote areas experienced the least change in fire regimes due to their distance from changing land use. Our findings support the importance of ecological economics as a driver concentrating human effects on forests and fire in the most accessible areas of the SCRM. After examining the causes and effects of past land use change on forests and fire regimes, we assessed the viability of a method combining unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with dendrochronology for understanding forest volume dynamics in order to better inform land use policy in the future.
Committee Members: Ron Towner (co-chair), Donald Falk (co-chair), Steve Kuhn, María Nieves Zedeño