Wildfire and Water


Since 2005, we have been studying the effects of wildfire on stream-riparian ecosystems. This research contributes to our understanding of the complex processes that influence stream ecosystems, as well as provides valuable information for natural-resource managers tasked with fire management and stream conservation and restoration.

Wildfire can strongly affect ecosystems. However, the influence of fire on streams, rivers, and their adjacent riparian zones is still not completely understood. We seek to contribute to the growing body of knowledge that addresses the complex fire-stream interface in order to advance both basic science and effective management of stream-riparian ecosystems. An improved understanding of the intersection of climate, fire and water, including drought, will be critical for many fire-prone areas of the world. 

Funding for this work has been provided by the National Science Foundation, the Bureau of Land Management, the DeVlieg Foundation, the University of Idaho, and The Ohio State University.


Jackson, B.K, and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2020. Influence of wildfire severity on geomorphic features and riparian vegetation of forested streams of the Sierra Nevada, California, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire doi: 10.1071/WF19114.

Santos, F., Wymore, A.S., Jackson, B.K., Sullivan, S.M.P., McDowell, W.H., and A.A. Berhe. 2019. Fire severity, time since fire, and site-level characteristics influence streamwater chemistry at baseflow conditions in catchments of the Sierra Nevada, California. Fire Ecology 15:3.

Jackson, B.K., and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2018. Ecosystem size and flooding drive trophic dynamics of riparian spiders in a fire-prone Sierra Nevada river system. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 75: 308-318.

Jackson, B.K., and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2015. Responses of riparian tetragnathid spiders to wildfire in a Mediterranean-climate forest ecosystem of California, USA. Freshwater Science. 34: 1542-1557.

Jackson, B.J., Sullivan, S.M.P., Baxter, C.V., and R. Malison. 2015. Stream-riparian ecosystems and mixed- and high-severity fire. Pages 118-148 in: “The ecological importance of mixed-severity fires: nature’s Phoenix”, eds. DellaSala, D.A. and C.T. Hanson. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Jackson, B.J., Sullivan, S.M.P., and Malison, R. 2012. Wildfire severity mediates fluxes of plant material and terrestrial invertebrates to mountain streams. Forest Ecology and Management 278: 27-34.

Jackson, B.K. and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2009. Influence of wildfire severity on riparian plant community heterogeneity in an Idaho, USA wilderness. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 24-32.


“What the Amazon fires mean for wild animals”, National Geographic by Natasha Daly, August 2019: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/08/how-the-amazon-rainforest-wildfires-will-affect-wild-animals/

“Wildfires alter stream chemistry for years”, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, April 2019: https://nifa.usda.gov/blog/wildfires-alter-stream-chemistry-years

“What do wild animals do in a wildfire?” National Geography Daily News (by Sarah Zielinski), July 2014: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140721-animals-wildlife-wildfires-nation-forests-science/