Prescribed burning to affect a state transition in a shrub-encroached desert grassland
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Kris M. Havstad; D. James
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • black grama
  • black grama
  • Bouteloua
  • Bouteloua eriopoda
  • cover
  • dominance (ecology)
  • ecological sites
  • fire management
  • grasslands
  • grazing
  • honey mesquite
  • invasive species
  • livestock
  • mesquite
  • mesquite control
  • New Mexico
  • Prosopis
  • Prosopis glandulosa
  • range management
  • rangeland restoration
  • rangelands
  • sandy ecological site
  • shrubs
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: April 25, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 48978
Tall Timbers Record Number: 25243
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
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.


Prescribed burning is a commonly advocated and historical practice for control of woody species encroachment into grasslands on all continents. However, desert grasslands of the southwestern United States often lack needed herbaceous fuel loads for effective prescriptions, dominant perennial graminoids may have poor fire tolerance, and some systems contain fire-tolerant invasive species. We examined long-term vegetation responses of a black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda Tort.) grassland that had been invaded by honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) following a single prescribed burn. Vegetation responses to a 1995 prescribed burn were evaluated in a replicated randomized complete block design with a 2 x 2 factorial treatment structure. Treatments were prescribed burning and livestock exclusion for both a grassland-dominated and a shrub-encroached grassland state within a complex of sandy and shallow sandy ecological sites. Vegetation responses were measured in 2008, 13 years after the burn treatment application. Neither black grama basal cover nor honey mesquite canopy cover were responsive (p < 0.05) to any treatment. A single prescribed burn would be ineffective as a shrub control practice in this environment. Repeated but infrequent prescribed burning within shrub-encroached vegetative states, when used in combination with managed grazing, may be the management required for a transition to desert grassland states within these ecological sites. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Havstad, K. M., and D. James. 2010. Prescribed burning to affect a state transition in a shrub-encroached desert grassland. Journal of Arid Environments, v. 74, no. 10, p. 1324-1328. 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2010.005.035.