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David Godwin - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

David Godwin

Director | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

David Godwin researches fire ecology, from remote sensing assessments of burn severity to prescribed fire and forest carbon dynamics.


David Godwin is the director and co-principal investigator of the Southern Fire Exchange with the School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatic Sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. He is a certified fire ecologist. His fire science research experience spans a variety of southern ecosystems and includes investigations of wildfire burn severity using remote sensing and studies of the impacts of prescribed fire and mechanical fuel treatments on southeastern U.S. forests and soil carbon dynamics.

Areas of Expertise (4)


Fire Science

Fire Ecology

Prescribed Fire

Media Appearances (4)

6 wildfire terms to understand, from red flag warning to 100% containment

The Conversation  online


Here are six terms you’ll often hear when people talk about wildfires that are useful to understand, both for preparing for fire season and gauging the risk when fires start.

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How a hurricane fueled wildfires in the Florida Panhandle

The Conversation  online


The wildfires that broke out in the Florida Panhandle in early March 2022 were the nightmare fire managers had feared since the day Hurricane Michael flattened millions of trees there in 2018. It might sound odd – hurricanes helping to fuel wildfires. But Michael’s 160 mph winds left tangles of dead trees that were ready to burn.

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Is Florida the Answer to California’s Fire Problem?

Sierra  online


Scientists and land managers almost universally agree that prescribed fire is the single best tool available to help mitigate wildfire risk. Landowners in the American Southeast use more prescribed fire than in any other part of the country. But across much of the American West—which has captured an outsize proportion of the public imagination around wildfire—scientists say land management agencies aren’t using fire nearly enough.

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Prescribed fire cultivates healthy landscapes

Gainesville Sun  print


Without frequent prescribed fire or other management, within a matter of years the open woods of my walk would converge into a dark and shrubby thicket stricken of plant and wildlife diversity. Experience in the woods, confirmed by recent research, has taught me that fire-excluded forests harbor significantly more ticks and mosquitoes.

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Articles (4)

Prescribed fire science: the case for a refined research agenda

Fire Ecology

J. Kevin Hiers, et al.


The realm of wildland fire science encompasses both wild and prescribed fires. Most of the research in the broader field has focused on wildfires, however, despite the prevalence of prescribed fires and demonstrated need for science to guide its application. This paper argues that prescribed fire science requires a fundamentally different approach to connecting related disciplines of physical, natural and social sciences.

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The consequences of soil heating for prescribed fire use and fire restoration in the South

Final report, Joint Fire Science Program

Leda N Kobziar, et al.


Soil heating resulting from prescribed burning in the southern US has potential immediate and long-term impacts. Where fire is being restored to long-unburned sites, the duration and depth of soil heating may be substantial, affecting seed banks, soil carbon cycling, and root and rhizosphere systems with often severe repercussions for overstory tree survival. Where fire has been used frequently, effects on soil quality are assumed benign, but this is not empirically proven.

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Effects of Fire Frequency and Soil Temperature on Soil CO2 Efflux Rates in Old-Field Pine-Grassland Forests


David R. Godwin, et al.


Soil CO2 efflux (Rs) is a significant source of carbon dioxide from soils to the atmosphere and is a critical component of total ecosystem carbon budgets. Prescribed fire is one of the most prevalent forest management tools employed in the southeastern USA. This study investigated the influence of prescribed fire on Rs rates in old-field pine-grassland forests in north Florida that had been managed with prescribed fire annually and biennially for over 40 years, or left unburned for approximately the same period.

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Comparison of Burn Severities of Consecutive Large-Scale Fires in Florida Sand Pine Scrub Using Satellite Imagery Analysis

Fire Ecology

David R. Godwin, et al.


Remotely sensed imagery has been used extensively in the western US to evaluate patterns of burn severity and vegetation recovery following wildland fires. Its application in southern US ecosystems, however, has been limited. Challenges in southern areas include very high rates of vegetation recovery following fire, frequent cloud cover, and the presence of standing water.

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