Brigitte Hugh

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The fire cycle; appreciating a fundamental disturbance, with fire ecologist Larissa Yocom

“I think the word ‘loss’ from fire is a little misplaced,” says Larissa Yocom, a USU researcher whose work investigates how fire changes ecosystems and how those changes affect people. Larissa counts tree rings to learn how an area has burned in the past. She counts twigs on forest floors to see how an area would burn in the present. And she counts seedlings and suckers to see how trees come back after a burn. 

In this episode, Larissa explains the history of wildfire in the west, helping us understand fire as just another force of nature. Just like storms, we can’t prevent fires from happening. But, mechanical treatments and prescribed burns give us some say in when and how an area burns. Decision-makers can use fire as a tool, reducing the negative and destructive effects fire has on people and communities.

This episode of Instead is our fiftieth (50th)! We’re so pleased to have been able to share research with you from across our campus. While this project started under less than ideal circumstances, that spark lit a fire we’re happy keeps burning. Thanks for continuing to join us week after week! 

Sign up for information about the Upcoming Research Landscapes event featuring Dr. Yocom on June 22, 2021 at

Learn more about Larissa Yocom’s research at her website: