A hierarchical fire frequency model to simulate temporal patterns of fire regimes in LANDIS

Jian Yang, Hong S. He, Eric J. Gustafson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Fire disturbance has important ecological effects in many forest landscapes. Existing statistically based approaches can be used to examine the effects of a fire regime on forest landscape dynamics. Most examples of statistically based fire models divide a fire occurrence into two stages - fire ignition and fire initiation. However, the exponential and Weibull fire-interval distributions, which model a fire occurrence as a single event, are often inappropriately applied to these two-stage models. We propose a hierarchical fire frequency model in which the joint distribution of fire frequency is factorized into a series of conditional distributions. The model is consistent with the framework of statistically based approaches because it accounts for the separation of fire ignition from fire occurrence. The exponential and Weibull models are actually special cases of our hierarchical model. In addition, more complicated non-stationary temporal patterns of fire occurrence also can be simulated with the same approach. We implemented this approach as an improved fire module in LANDIS and conducted experiments within forest landscapes of northern Wisconsin and southern Missouri. The results of our experiments demonstrate this new fire module can simulate a wide range of fire regimes across heterogeneous landscapes with a few parameters and a moderate amount of input data. The model possesses great flexibility for simulating temporal variations in fire frequency for various forest ecosystems and can serve as a theoretical framework for future statistical modeling of fire regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-133
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Forest Service North Central Research Station. We appreciate suggestions to this work from Richard P. Guyette, Rob Doudrick, David R. Larsen, Bernard J. Lewis, Bo Z. Shang, Stephen R. Shifley, and Farroll T. Wright. We particularly wish to thank Ajith H. Perera, Brian R. Sturtevant, and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on previous versions of the manuscript.


  • Fire frequency model
  • Fire regime
  • Hierarchical modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'A hierarchical fire frequency model to simulate temporal patterns of fire regimes in LANDIS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this