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Indirect interactions between climate and cropland distribution shape fire size in West African grasslands

Schulte to Bühne, H; Tobias, JA; Durant, SM; Pettorelli, N; (2022) Indirect interactions between climate and cropland distribution shape fire size in West African grasslands. Landscape Ecology 10.1007/s10980-022-01571-0. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Context: Climate and land use changes often interact, yet our ability to predict their combined effects on biodiversity is currently limited. In particular, the combined effects of climate and land use on key ecosystem dynamics, such as disturbance regimes, that shape biodiversity across large spatial scales, are poorly understood. Objectives: We assess how indirect climate–land use interactions influence disturbance regimes by examining the mechanistic pathways by which climate and proximity to cropland interact to shape fire size in a West African grassland ecosystem, the W-Arly-Pendjari transboundary protected area complex. Methods: We use remotely sensed indicators of burned area, rainfall, cropland distribution, and vegetation dynamics to test two spatially explicit hypotheses about the interaction between climate and land use effects on fire dynamics. Results: We demonstrate that in areas where wet season grass production (which is driven by rainfall) is higher, fires are larger, but that this relationship depends on the distance to cropland. Close to cropland, environmental drivers of fire size (wet season grass production, and progressive loss of fire fuel during the fire season) have little effect on fire size, as fuel breaks induced by cropland limit fire size. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the extent to which climate factors control fire dynamics in this African grassland depends on the spatial distribution of land use. More broadly, considering the relative spatial distributions of interacting stressors may be key to improving predictions of their combined impacts on ecosystem functioning.

Type: Article
Title: Indirect interactions between climate and cropland distribution shape fire size in West African grasslands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10980-022-01571-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-022-01571-0
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Fire dynamics, Fire size, Savannah, West Africa, Satellite remote sensing, Climate change-land use change interactions
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10164039
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