Fire avoidance

n. Traits of an organism that prevent its cells from heating to lethal temperatures.


  • Discussion


According to Levitt (1980), there are two kinds of resistance to injury, whether caused by fire or other forces: tolerance and avoidance.  Fire avoidance is a kind of fire resistance that describes ways of preventing plant cells from heating to lethal temperatures. Most plant cells that survive fire do so through avoidance because of insulating tissues, for example, or because of an insulated microenvironment.




The bark of western larch (Larix occidentalis), averaging 7 to 15 cm thick on a mature tree (Fowells 1965), demonstrates fire avoidance. The cambium cells of western larch, which lie beneath this thick bark, are less likely to be killed by fire than those of trees with thinner bark. As a result, large “relict” western larches often stand alone above the canopy of a young forest that is regenerating after stand-replacing fire.


  • See Also

  • References

    • Levitt, J. 1980. Responses of plants to environmental stresses, Volume I. Chilling, freezing, and high temperature stresses. New York: Academic Press. pp. 7-18.

    • Fowells, H. A., compiler. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agric. Handb. 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 762 p.


  • Notes

    • Author 

      Jane Kapler Smith, Ecologist

      Rocky Mountain Research Station