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Mutch's Hypothesis

Cuong Tran C.Tran at eas.gu.edu.au
Tue Jun 18 17:37:34 EST 1996

I have begun studies on wildland fires and effects on vegetation etc.
Anyway, in 1970 Robert Mutch published a paper (Ecology 51 (6): 
1046-1051) with his hypothesis that certain forest communities (e.g. 
Eucalyptus spp. and Pinus spp.) have certain charactersitics which 
enhance the chances for intense fires (via heavy litter etc.) and that 
"fire-dependent communities burn more readily than non-fire-dependent 
communities because natural selection has favoured development of 
characterisitcs that make them more flammable". 
Now, this paper has ignited (...couldn't resist) a lot of debate since 
its publication, even to this day, and many researchers have tried to 
demonstrate either way for Mutch's hypothesis. Its been criticised for 
being group-selectionist etc. This is the view that I am leaning 
towards...does anyone out there have any comments on Mutch's hypothesis? 
Your 2 cents worth is better than nothing.

Look forward to hear from you.


School of Applied Science
Griffith University-Gold Coast

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