Non-native plant invasions and changing management activities have altered the structure and composition of forests. Invasive shrubs and fire suppression have led to increased densification and biomass accumulation in forest ecosystems of the southeastern United States. Notably, the encroachment of non-native privets has altered ecosystem processes and caused changes in community structure. The latter has become manifest through decreases in fine herbaceous fuels concurrent with increases in coarse woody fuels in forest understories. These alterations in fuel structure will potentially lead to less frequent, but more severe forest fires, which threaten forest resources during extreme weather conditions. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Wang et al. drew on extensive datasets compiled by the U.S. Forest Service, and integrated statistical forecasting and analytical techniques within a spatially-explicit, agent-based, simulation framework to predict potential range expansion of Chinese and European privet (Ligustrum sinense and Ligustrum vulgare) and the associated increase in crown fire risk over the next two decades in forestlands of Mississippi and Alabama. The resulting time series projections of annual range expansions and crown fire frequency should provide land managers and restoration practitioners with an invasion chronology upon which to base proactive management plans.
Hsiao-Hsuan Wang, Carissa L. Wonkka, William E. Grant, William E. Rogers, 2016, 'Range expansion of invasive shrubs: implication for crown fire risk in forestlands of the southern USA', AoB Plants, vol. 8, p. plw012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plw012