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FireBGCv2

FireBGCv2 is a computer modeling program and platform that mechanistically simulates fire, vegetation, climate, and fuels dynamics across multiple space and time scales.

Fire management will face many complex and novel issues in this coming century, including dealing with decades of fuel accumulation from past fire exclusion policies, protecting the expanding wildland-urban interface, and managing fire in landscapes that are being invaded by exotic plants and diseases -- all in the face of possible warmer and drier climates. Land managers need innovative tools and information to describe the impacts of past and future human activities on ecosystem dynamics so that they can plan for and respond to the burgeoning issues related to land management and conservation. The spatially explicit ecosystem process model FireBGCv2 is a landscape fire and vegetation model C++ computer program that incorporates several types of stand dynamics models into a spatially explicit landscape simulation platform. FireBGCv2 is intended as a research tool but it can be employed in various land management applications providing sufficient expertise exists to parameterize and initialize the model. This report is divided into four parts. The FireBGCv2 simulation modeling platform is currently used to address six main research areas within the arena of climate-disturbance interactions: 1) exploration of climate-wildfire interactions such as shifting fire regimes and fire severity, disturbance thresholds, and disturbance synergies; 2) effects on ecosystem patterns and processes including vegetation composition, wildlife habitat suitability, forest structure, net primary productivity, and landscape resilience/vulnerability; 3) integration of ecosystem modeling with long-term tree-ring, fire scar, and paleoecological records; 4) effects of climate changes and disturbance processes on landscape carbon dynamics, especially in the context of potential regime shifts; 5) threshold shifts or tipping points, at which relatively small perturbations of forcing variables result in large, abrupt, and long-term changes in ecosystem properties; and 6) potential land management strategies to reduce ecological vulnerability to climate and landscape change. The FireBGCv2 simulation modeling design incorporates climate change scenarios drawn from downscaled Global Circulation Models to define potential future conditions, and simulation landscapes are well-distributed across latitudinal and longitudinal gradients in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, and Colorado.

Current FireBGCv2 research projects:

CLIMET: Quantifying climate- and disturbance-driven shifts in landscape patterns and process across ecological gradients. Wildlife HSI: Modeling wildlife habitat suitability under potential future climate regimes, with incorporation of potential management strategies to restore or sustain critical habitat.

TIPPING POINTS: Assessing critical climate-driven thresholds in landscape dynamics using spatial simulation modeling: climate change tipping points in fire management.

FIRECLIM: Assessing and adaptively managing wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface for future climate and landuse changes.

PALEOBGC: Linking the past with the future: Reconstruction of historic and prehistoric ecosystem dynamics through integration of fire and forest histories and dynamic ecosystem modeling.

Cross-Model Comparison: Comparison of process scales and climate change drivers among three vegetation-fire simulation modeling platforms: FireBGCv2, MC1, and Climate-FVS.

WildFIRE PIRE: Feedbacks and consequences of altered fire regimes in the face of climate and land-use change in Tasmania, New Zealand, and the western U.S. (http://www.wildfirepire.org/)

GRAZE-BGC: Strategic role of large herbivore grazing on succession, fuels, and fire dynamics in a changing climate.

FISHFRY: Wildland fire affects native fishes sin the Rocky Mountain West by removing riparian vegetation, increasing solar radiation to the stream, and leading to warmer summer water temperature.

GNLCC: Restoring whitebakr pine ecosystems in the face of climate change

Top image: The scales in the FireBGCv2 model

Bottom image: The sites that are currently parameterized for FireBGCv2 simulation

FireBGCv2 icon
Photo: FireBGCv2 simulation
Modified: Apr 18, 2016

Select Publications & Products

Keane, Robert E.; Loehman, Rachel A.; Holsinger, Lisa M. 2011. The FireBGCv2 landscape fire and succession model: a research simulation platform for exploring fire and vegetation dynamics. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-255. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 137 p.

Keane, Robert E.; Loehman, Rachel A.; Holsinger, Lisa M. 2011. The FireBGCv2 landscape fire and succession model: a research simulation platform for exploring fire and vegetation dynamics. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-255. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 137 p.

Bevins, C.D., P.L. Andrews and R.E. Keane. 1995. Forest succession modeling using the Loki software architecture. Lesnictvi-Forestry 41(4):158-162. (Refereed)

Keane, R.E., K. Ryan and S.W. Running. 1996. Simulating the effect of fire on northern Rocky Mountain landscapes using the ecological process model Fire-BGC. Tree Physiology 16:319-331. (Refereed)

Keane, R.E., K. Ryan, and S.W. Running. 1995. Simulating the effects of fire and climate change on northern Rocky Mountain landscapes using the ecological process model Fire-BGC. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report RM-262. pages 39-47.

Keane, Robert E., Penelope Morgan, Steven W. Running. 1996. Fire-BGC -- a mechanistic ecological process model for simulating fire succession on coniferous forest landscapes of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Res. Paper INT-484. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Intermountain Research Station. 122 p.

Keane, R.E., K. Ryan and S.W. Running. 1996. Simulating the effect of fire on northern Rocky Mountain landscapes using the ecological process model Fire-BGC. Tree Physiology 16:319-331. (Refereed)

Keane, R.E., Colin Hardy, Kevin Ryan, and Mark Finney. 1997. Simulating effects of fire management on gaseous emissions from future landscapes of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. World Resource Review 9(2):177-205 (Refereed).

Keane, R.E., K. Ryan, and Mark Finney. 1998. Simulating the Consequences of Altered Fire Regimes on a Complex Landscape in Glacier National Park, USA. In: Pruden, T.L. and L.A. Brennan (editors): Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings 20: 310-324. (Refereed)

Loehman, Rachel A.; Corrow, Allissa; Keane, Robert E. 2011. Modeling climate changes and wildfire Interactions: Effects on whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) and implications for restoration, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. Pages 176-188 In: Keane, Robert E.; Tomback, Diana F.; Murray, Michael P.; and Smith, Cyndi M., eds. 2011. The future of high-elevation, five-needle white pines in Western North America: Proceedings of the High Five Symposium. 28-30 June 2010; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-63. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 376 p. Online at

Keane RE, Cary GJ, Flannigan MD, Parsons RA, Davies ID, King KJ, Li C, Bradstock RA, Gill M. 2013. Exploring the role of fire, succession, climate, and weather on landscape dynamics using comparative modeling. Ecological Modelling 266(2013) 172-186. (Refereed).

Holsinger, L. R. Keane, D. Isaak, L. Elby, and M. Young. March 2014. Relative effects of climate change and wildfires on stream temperatures: a simulation modeling approach in a Rocky Mountain watershed. Climatic Change. DOI 10.1007/s10584-014-1092-5

Riggs, R. A., R. E. Keane, N. Cimon, R. Cook, L. Holsinger, J. Cook, T. DelCurto, L. S. Baggett, D. Justice, D. Powell, M. Vavra, and B. Naylor. 2015. Biomass and fire dynamics in a temperate forest-grassland mosaic: Integrating multi-species herbivory, climate, and fire with the FireBGCv2/GrazeBGC system. Ecological Modelling 296:57-78.