Fire ecology--grasslands and man
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): E. V. Komarek
Publication Year: 1965

Cataloging Information

  • aborigines
  • agriculture
  • Andropogon virginicus
  • anthropology
  • Aristida spp.
  • arthropods
  • biogeography
  • birds
  • cover
  • Dissosteira carolina
  • distribution
  • evolution
  • fire adaptations (plants)
  • fire regimes
  • forbs
  • genetics
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • grazing
  • heat
  • heat effects
  • Imperata
  • insects
  • lightning
  • lightning caused fires
  • Manisuris
  • Melanoplus femur-rubrum
  • moisture
  • mosaic
  • Native Americans
  • nesting cover
  • Paspalum notatum
  • pine forests
  • Pinus palustris
  • prairies
  • presettlement vegetation
  • Sarracenia drummondi
  • season of fire
  • Setaria spp.
  • slash
  • slash and burn
  • small mammals
  • storms
  • succession
  • trees
  • Tripsacum
  • waterfowl
  • wildlife
  • Zea mays
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 12, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 29827
Tall Timbers Record Number: 3792
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Tall Timbers shelf
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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.


From the text ... 'In this particular paper, as a fire ecologist, I am not primarily interested in the economic use of fire for man, but rather in the ecological relations of fire to plants, animals, and man in those interesting and sometimes peculiar adjustments, preadaptations or properties that allow or require them to live in fire environments. '[Author describes the location and types of major grasslands and varying moisture levels and climate conditions]. 'This basic pattern of grasslands surrounded by fire-adapted trees appears to be a rather ancient one. Lightning and consequent lightning fires, appear to be a basic component of the climate of these vast grasslands on rather sound meteorological evidence. Lightning is produced largely by two main types of weather patterns.Line or squall type thunderstorms. -- ....Convection thunderstorms. -- ....Evolutionary trends might be markedly affected by natural selection in a fire environment.... A characteristic pattern [following lightning strike] usually occurs -- lethal effect on the grass at a point of impact gradually fading to no discernible effect or damage. In this band of variability just the right condition for natural mutations could possibly occur. In a fire environment we have at least two factors, and very probably more, that appear to be able to promote more mutagenic or other variations than the other slower climatic conditons: Lightning with its attendant electrical discharge and fire with its heat. Thus we may conclude that there is a greater and quicker potential of mutations in a fire environment than in a non-fire one -- with all of its evolutionary ramifications. I have repeatedly emphasized the place of natural summer fires, because these occur not only during the genetically important reproductive stages of grasses and forbs but also of the animal inhabitants. These animals have had to evolve under such conditions, too, so that natural selection over a long period of time has 'fitted' them to survive under a summer, lightning-caused fire regime.' [Author then discusses evolution of hominids in savannah and grassland areas, use of fire for a multitude of purposes, association with grazing animals, use of cereal grains, domestication and cultivation of maize and the beginnings of agriculture, patterns of movement and settlement into grassland regions throughout all continents, and slash and burn agriculture.] 'Because of the importance that fire ecology may have in unraveling the origin of agriculture as well as the origin of many of our cereals additional areas will be planted to the various cereal crops and burned to see what actually does occur. This type of experimentation, coupled with experimental work in the laboratory, could open up many vistas of research in those natural experiments that are all around us.'

Komarek, E. V. 1965. Fire ecology--grasslands and man, Proceedings Fourth Annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference. Tallahassee, FL. Tall Timbers Research, Inc.,Tallahassee, FL. p. 169-220,