A novel approach to fuel biomass sampling for 3D fuel characterization
Surface fuels are the critical link between structure and function in frequently burned pine ecosystems, which are found globally (Williamson and Black,1981; Rebertus et al.,1989; Glitzenstein et al.,1995) [1–3]. We bring fuels to the forefront of fire ecology through the concept of the Ecology of Fuels (Hiers et al. 2009) . This concept describes a cyclic process between fuels, fire behavior, and fire effects, which ultimately affect future fuel distribution (Mitchell et al. 2009) . Low-intensity surface fires are driven by the variability in fine-scale (sub-m level) fuels (Loudermilk et al. 2012) . Traditional fuel measurement approaches do not capture this variability because they are over-generalized, and do not consider the fine-scale architecture of interwoven fuel types. Here, we introduce a new approach, the “3D fuels sampling protocol” that measures fuel biomass at the scale and dimensions useful for characterizing heterogeneous fuels found in low-intensity surface fire regimes.