Represented through cake: mixed-conifer post-fire succession

Something so rare and wonderful happened this week that it must be shared:

The Stephens Wildland Fire Science Lab at UC Berkeley recently hosted a departmental happy hour. To celebrate the occasion, Stephens Lab PhD candidate Anu Kramer illustrated a typical Sierra Nevada post-fire succession in the form of three cakes:

The first cake, shown above, represents a dense Sierra mixed-conifer forest. Large sugar cones with green rice crispies are large remnant pines. The smaller cones with green shredded coconut represent invading shade-tolerant fir trees. Slivered almonds represent a heavy buildup of surface fuels.

To represent immediate post-high-severity fire effects, Anu employed a highly accurate rendering of stand conditions using a dense, flourless chocolate cake.

A passionfruit cake with chocolate-coconut frosting was used to demonstrate one year post-wildfire regeneration. Note the vibrant understory regeneration with wildflowers.

How's that for effective science communication? Pretty darn good, I'd say.

Big thanks to Anu for the cakes!

Photo credits to Anu Kramer and Lauren Hallett.