Fire alters emergence of invasive plant species from soil surface-deposited seeds
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Lance T. Vermeire; Matthew J. Rinella
Publication Year: 2009

Cataloging Information

  • Acroptilon spp.
  • Agropyron cristatum
  • Bromus japonicus
  • Centaurea maculosa
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • fire injuries (plants)
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire models
  • fire regimes
  • fuel loading
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • heat
  • invasive species
  • light
  • mortality
  • population density
  • seed dormancy
  • seed germination
  • seedlings
  • seeds
  • statistical analysis
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 25438
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24398
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Restoration of historic fire regimes is complicated by concerns about exotic plant invasions, yet little is known of how the two may interact. Seeds of Japanese brome, spotted knapweed, Russian knapweed, and leafy spurge were subjected to fire at six fuel loads (100 to 700 g m−2) and a nonburned control. Fires were simulated with field-cured grass and time–temperature profiles were developed from thermocouples at the soil surface. Emergence was determined by species and fuel load in growth chambers. Fuel load explained 98% of variation in mean heat dosage and emergence decreased with increasing fuel load across species. Emergence was reduced 79 to 88% relative to nonburned treatment with 100 g m−2 of fuel and at least 97% with 200 g m−2 of fuel. Emergence probabilities were less than 0.01 for all species but spotted knapweed with a 300 g m−2 fuel load. Results indicate high potential for fire to disrupt the life cycle of invasive species through direct seed mortality. The relationship between fuel load and seedling emergence provides good predictability of fire effects on surface-deposited seeds. A single fire is unlikely to eradicate many invasive species because they often produce abundant seeds and some will undoubtedly escape fire. However, abrupt reductions in seedling emergence with relatively light fuel loads indicate that fire may be an effective tool for increasing mortality of invasive plant seed across a broad range of habitats.

Online Link(s):
Vermeire, Lance T.; Rinella, Matthew J. 2009. Fire alters emergence of invasive plant species from soil surface-deposited seeds. Weed Science 57(3):304-310.