Fire size varies tremendously, from a lightning-ignited fire that remains localized around a particular tree it strikes to massive forest fires that cover many square miles. In general the vast majority of landscape that burns is the result of just a small percent of the total number of fires. Many forest fires have complicated patterns of fuel consumption resulting from a mixture of surface fires, crown fires, and unburned patches. This heterogeneity is important to ecosystem processes such as tree recruitment for reasons to be discussed below. Heterogeneity is also important for wildlife since many species utilize plant resources available in recently burned areas but require unburned forest or shrubland patches for cover and breeding sites.
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