Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the lead author on a research article titled “Wildlife severity and vegetation recovery drive post-fire evapotranspiration in a southwestern pine-oak forest, Arizona, USA” published in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation on May 8, 2021.
Undergraduates Michael Freiburger ’21 and Hunter Vannie ’20 assisted in collecting field data.
From the paper’s abstract:
In this study, post-fire ET was driven by plant species composition and tree canopy cover. ET was significantly higher in the morning and midday in densely vegetated post-fire shrublands than pine-dominated forests that remained 5–7 years after wildfire. Our results demonstrate that plant functional traits such as resprouting and desiccation tolerance drive post-fire ET patterns, and they are likely to continue to play critical roles in shaping post-fire plant communities and forest water cycling under future environmental change.
The paper is Poulos’ first to result from her NASA ECOSTRESS project. She received a $300,000 grant from NASA in 2019 to study how high-severity wildfires in southern Arizona can permanently affect forests. The project uses data recorded by the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) instrument on the International Space Station.