California Natural History Guides, Introduction to Fire in California by David Carle, University of California Press, Copyright 2008 by the Regents of the University of California.
There are so many interesting facts in this book. I think most people understand now, that fire in many ecosystems is healthy, natural, and necessary. In the past many demonized fire as an enemy, or called fires natural disasters.
The book covers what fire is, and how it behaves in the wild, the fire regimes and the various vegetation types and plant communities that evolved with fire, are adapted to fire, and rely on particular fire intervals for survival. It then covers the history of land management and forestry, and current discussions about these topics. Finally, there is a section about living in a Wildlife-Urban Interface and how to adapt to life with fire.
I enjoy the section about fire regimes and the plants that rely or have adapted to fire. For example, pyrophytes are fire loving plants that only sprout in favorable post-fire conditions, and are known as fire-followers. Plants survive fire by sprouting from underground bulbs, corms, rhizomes, or banked seeds that germinate from fire. Some plants are known as obligate resprouters, and must resprout after everything above ground are consumed by fire (or mostly). Most native hardwoods do this, but only Coast Redwood does this in the Conifer group. In the Chaparral shrublands, all the plants are adapted to fire, and some seeds germinate from a reaction to smoke, or some resprout from a burl, or both. Some of these are fire neutral, but will continue their legacy through resprouting or seed. This is known as a facultative sprouter. Chamise is the most common example, and is used to calculate moisture levels to determine fire level dangers like you see on CalFire Stations, etc.
Closed-cone Pines and Cypresses are often adapted to fire to the point of dependency. A cone is called serotinous if the seeds are only released from the heat of a fire. Some trees are more strongly serotinous than others. Knobcone Pines are very serotinous, but Coulter Pines are more so next to Chaparral, and less so in less fire prone areas. Most Cypress trees are serotinous. I’m not sure if when homesteaders planted Monterey Cypress all over, if they heated the cones to germinate over a campfire, or if they dug up starts from their native groves, and transplanted them. Either way, I see rows of them planted at old homesteads and ranches in places where they can easily survive naturally (same climate).
Well, that’s enough about this book for now, give it a read if it sounds interesting!
How about you, have you read, or are you reading a book about Natural History of any kind?