Evaluating post-fire severity

Fire severity describes the effects of fire on ecological processes, soil, flora, and fauna; degree to which a site has been altered or disrupted by fire.  Fire severity is typically rated in three categories: low, moderate, and high.

The level of fire severity has a large impact on combustion of invasive and native seed, mortality of perennial herbaceous plants, soil crust connectivity, reductions in litter, and the overall resilience and resistance of a site, which impacts postfire succession and nutrient, hydrologic, and energy cycles.  Post-fire severity can be assessed on burned sites using the evidence listed below (from Miller et al. 2015).

Indicators of hight fire severity in the above photo are: 1) 99% litter consumption, 2) few shrub skeletons remain, 3) tree bark and foliage consumed, 4) soil surface loose and powdery, and 5) grass crowns consumed