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Heath Bartosh

Sr. Botanist

Nomad Ecology

Fire Ecology of our Chaparral Ecosystems


As Californians we understand that fire is a part of life in the Golden State, but are there benefits of this phenomenon? What effects does it have on native vegetation? If there are positive effects, can there be too much of a good thing? In 2013, the Morgan Fire burned 3,000 acres on Mount Diablo. Researchers at Nomad Ecology used this fire as an outdoor laboratory to get a better understanding of fire frequency on Mount Diablo, how it affected chaparral (a dominant shrub community in California), and the post-fire flora that lives hidden in the seed bank waiting for fire to germinate its seeds. These fire followers persist only up to 3 years post-fire before retreating into the soil seed bank. In this presentation, we will learn about chaparral, shrub life histories, fire frequency, and some of the fire followers that live on Mount Diablo but spend most of their life cycles hidden beneath the soil, sometimes for decades.

Meet the Speaker:

Co‐founder and Senior Botanist of Nomad Ecology, based in Martinez, California, and is a Research Associate at the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley. After graduating from Humboldt State University, Heath began his career as a professional botanist in 2002 and has been an earnest student of the California flora for the past 14 years. His general research interests are in California vascular plant floristics with a focus on distribution, soil and geologic relationships, endemism, regional and local rarity, and habitat conservation. At a more specific level, his primary interests are floristics of the North and South Coast Ranges (NCoR and SCoR) and fire-following annual plant species there. His research on post-fire floras focuses on the composition and duration of the eruptive dominance and subsequent fleeting abundance of annual plant species at regional scales within the California Coast Ranges. In 2009, he also became a member of the Rare Plant Program Committee at the state level of CNPS. His role on this committee is to ensure the rare plant program continues to develop current and accurate information on the distribution, ecology, and conservation status of California's rare and endangered plants, and help promote the use of this information to influence plant conservation in California.

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