Mutch's Hypothesis

Cuong Tran C.Tran at
Tue Jun 18 18:41:04 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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