Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

  • Members may log in to read judges’ queries and presenters’ replies.

Presentation Discussion

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Faculty
    May 21, 2012 | 09:00 p.m.

    THought provoking poster. Do the inherent risks of prescribed burns vary from one of these areas of Texas to another? I think of the Edwards Plateau in particular as being a pretty different system from others in Texas, and could imagine that the buildup of fuel there might be faster and therefore require a somewhat different fire management approach.

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 22, 2012 | 11:33 a.m.

    Thank you for the great comment! Risk is very site specific and mostly depends on the biological risks of lighting a fire, type and amount of fuel, risk of fire spreading to adjacent properties, and smoke hazards on nearby roads and urban areas. Taking your specific questions and the above factors into account and then separating them by the three geographic areas in my study area I would say that yes, a different management approach is needed for each area based on site specific conditions. For example, my survey shows that brush cover, ranch size, and distance of ranch to roads and urban areas vary significantly between the three sites. These factors alone are enough to change the risk considerations in the three areas.

  • Icon for: Leslie Ruyle

    Leslie Ruyle

    Coordinator
    May 22, 2012 | 08:55 a.m.

    Very cool project! Have you noticed fluctuations in perceptions over time? In particular, I’m interested if all the uncontrolled wildfires that have been in the news recently have created a negative impression of prescribed burns and made people more reluctant to support them.

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 22, 2012 | 11:46 a.m.

    Thank you Leslie! Dr. Urs Kreuter and colleagues did a survey in 2004 where they found similar results (Kreuter, U. P., J. B. Woodard, et al. (2008). “Perceptions of Texas landowners regarding fire and its use.” Rangeland Ecology & Management 61(4): 456-464). I have not had a chance to analyze these data together with mine to determine if there are any statistically significant differences, but I plan to do this in the near future. Regarding your specific question, I would hope or even expect attitudes towards prescribed fires to improve. Many if not most of these wildfires have gotten out of control because of factors contributing to fuel buildup. Reintroducing prescribed fire into these systems would help prevent these catastrophic fires from occurring.

  • May 22, 2012 | 01:18 p.m.

    Great presentation and project David! Are you considering expert vs. non-expert opinion in your simulations for management scenarios?

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 22, 2012 | 03:43 p.m.

    Thanks Pablo! At this point, apart from what I have been able to gather from the literature and the work of my colleagues, I am only considering expert opinion. There are many knowledge gaps when it comes to simulating socio-ecological systems and in particular, those related to high intensity fires. Expert opinion of some key informants has really helped advance my work.

  • Small default profile

    Luis Agudelo

    Guest
    May 23, 2012 | 12:55 p.m.

    Muy buena presentación con excelente dominio del tema, pero cuál es el impacto sobre fauna y muy seguramente sobre el deterioro con medición real de la calidad del oxígeno ambiental

  • Small default profile

    Luis Agudelo

    Guest
    May 23, 2012 | 01:13 p.m.

    Muy buena presentación con excelente dominio del tema pero cuál es el impacto sobre fauna y sobre el deterioro con medición real de el oxígeno ambiental

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 23, 2012 | 01:41 p.m.

    Muy buena pregunta y gracias por preguntar! Hay que tener en cuenta que este tipo de fuegos solo se aplican en sistemas ecológicos que están adaptados al fuego y que necesitan fuego para mantenerse intactos. Mi área de estudio incluye pastizales y sabanas adaptados al fuego. En cuanto a la fauna en estos sistemas, hay impactos negativos a pequeña escala pero a nivel de paisaje el impacto es neutro o positivo porque los fuegos ayudan a mantener la matriz de hábitats necesarios para mantener la fauna que habita en ellos. La alternativa de no quemar, solo permitiría que estos ecosistemas fueran invadidos por especies leñosas afectando a la fauna que depende de espacios mas abiertos. En cuanto a la medición real de la calidad del oxígeno ambiental, este es un factor importante que se tiene que tener en cuenta para cada sito y depende de factores físicos del terreno, factores meteorológicos y proximidad a áreas con poblaciones humanas. Otro factor que hay que tener en cuenta en cuanto a calidad del aire es que cuando estos ecosistemas de pastizal están intactos, pueden llegar a capturar y almacenar mucho mas carbono bajo tierra que sistemas deteriorados por falta de fuego.

  • Small default profile

    Gisselle B.

    Guest
    May 23, 2012 | 04:41 p.m.

    Soy una persona poco conocedora del tema,¿el calentamiento global cómo influye en este tipo de fuegos aplicados a ciertos sistemas ecológicos que usted plantea y qué pasa con el efecto invernadero?

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 24, 2012 | 09:39 a.m.

    Gracias por la pregunta Gisselle. Este tipo de fuegos son parte natural de los ecosistemas con los que trabajo. Aunque hay algo de debate sobre el tema, un ecosistema de pastizal intacto que no ha sido degradado por falta de fuego por lo general tiene mas capacidad de absorber y almacenar carbono bajo tierra que un ecosistema que ha sido degradado. Como el Dióxido de Carbono es uno de los principales gases que causa el efecto invernadero, maximizar la capacidad de absorción de carbono de ecosistemas naturales seria una estrategia prudente para minimizar el impacto de estos gases. Ademas, la cantidad de gases tipo invernadero emitidos por una de estas quemas – que son una emisión natural – son minúsculos comparados con los que emitimos a diario – de manera no natural – manejando nuestros carros, deforestando, en procesos industriales, desperdiciando energia, etc.

  • Icon for: Craig Hutton

    Craig Hutton

    Trainee
    May 24, 2012 | 01:08 p.m.

    Great video and poster, David! I am curious if/how the idea of land use for something (e.g., livestock grazing or private conservation lands) intersects with PBAs. In strengthening landowner networks and trust, do the goals of the PBAs in your study espouse prescribed burns as a management tool for increasing the production value of their lands, as a tool for supporting ecological functioning of their lands, or a mix of the two?

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 24, 2012 | 01:57 p.m.

    Thank you Craig! Most of the landowners who belong to PBAs are ranchers with either cattle or wildlife hunting operations. For many of these landowners PBAs provide the most feasible way of safely and effectively applying a prescribed fire on their land to maintain ecological function, ranch values, and productivity. In regard to cattle and wildlife operations, trust, reciprocity and collective action are also important and desired factors and hence cattlemen’s associations and wildlife management associations. For my project I did not explore the intersection between these different groups and their interests, but this is something very interesting and should be considered by future research. Interested in some future collaborations?

  • May 26, 2012 | 02:49 a.m.

    David,
    Congratulations, it’s a good research topic, or shall we say, it’s a hot topic.
    I wonder whether the perception about fire changed due to the large fires that burned in Texas last year (2million+ acres). Is Texas doing any voluntary reduction/mitigation of greenhouse gases? if so, Are ranchers (or your project) tracking carbon emissions from those prescribed fires? Take a look at a paper by Russell-Smith et al (2009) in the International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 1-18. They have a system to develop a trade-off between wildfires and prescribed fires in savannas. A system like the one shown by those authors may become handy to defend the use of Rx burn in fire-adapted ecosystems.

  • Icon for: David Toledo

    David Toledo

    Presenter
    May 26, 2012 | 06:47 p.m.

    Thank you Ernesto, I have not had a chance to do any surveys after the fires in Texas last year but I imagine that more people have realized the importance of fuel reduction treatments. I do know that these fires precipitated the formation of a prescribed burn alliance that concentrates efforts of PBAs and other organizations to deal with fire issues such as fuel reduction and safe application of prescribed fires. As far as greenhouse gas reduction and mitigation, I have heard of different programs but have not had a chance to look into this topic in great detail. I do know that it is not something ranchers in my study were tracking though. I really appreciate the information on the Russell-Smith et al. 2009 paper. Fire effects on greenhouse gases seem to be a concern of the broader public and the more information I have on this, the better. Thanks again!

  • Icon for: Amanda Stronza

    Amanda Stronza

    Faculty
    May 31, 2012 | 10:13 a.m.

    This is a such timely and fascinating topic. Your efforts to connect both social and ecological data and perspectives will be so valuable in informing policy too—both in TX and nationally.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Icon for: David Toledo

DAVID TOLEDO

Texas A&M University
Years in Grad School: 4
Judges’
Choice

To burn or not to burn: balancing societal risk perceptions and ecological needs of a fire adapted system

Historically, the episodic occurrence of wildfires was a key driver for maintaining many open grassland and savannas systems. Lack of fire in systems that have typically evolved with fire has contributed to brush encroachment and ecological degradation of many areas. Information on the socio-ecological effects of prescribed fire application exists but there is no integrative framework that simultaneously considers the interplay between social and ecological factors affecting the use of prescribed fires. To address this deficiency, this study focuses on identifying specific socio-ecological factors affecting these systems and, by extension, the effects of these factors on the function, conservation and restoration of ecosystems. This poster shows that risk perception and social norms are important social factors affecting attitudes towards prescribed fire and presents a preliminary framework for combining socio-ecological factors into simulation models that can help guide management decisions. This poster also highlights how prescribed burn associations have overcome many difficulties associated with the use of prescribed fire resulting in greater implementation of prescribed fire at a landscape scale.