In late October, Southern California suffered a series of devastating wildfires that governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called "among the worst disasters in California's history." More than 2,000 square kilometers of land and hundreds of residences burned. 
Although extreme drought exacerbated this event, fire periodically burns California's chaparral, a dry habitat whose trees and shrubs evolved to reproduce and thrive in the wake of fires. While fire suppression over many decades has decreased the natural frequency of fire, encroachment of development into the chaparral that remains at the edges of San Diego and Los Angeles is especially risky to human life and property. View satellite imagery of October's fire events in this Bio Bulletin.