The ability of winter grazing to reduce wildfire size and fire-induced plant mortality was not demonstrated: a comment on Davies et al. (2015)
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Alistair M. S. Smith; Alan F. Talhelm; Crystal A. Kolden; Beth A. Newingham; Henry D. Adams; Jack D. Cohen; Kara M. Yedinak; Robert L. Kremens
Publication Year: 2016

Cataloging Information

  • fire injuries (plants)
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • grazing
  • heat effects
  • intensity
  • mortality
  • range management
  • season of fire
  • severity
  • thermocouples
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 27, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 55012
Tall Timbers Record Number: 32901
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals - I
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

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A recent study by Davies et al. sought to test whether winter grazing could reduce wildfire size, fire behaviour and intensity metrics, and fire-induced plant mortality in shrub-grasslands. The authors concluded that ungrazed rangelands may experience fire-induced mortality of native perennial bunchgrasses. The authors also presented several statements regarding the benefits of winter grazing on post-fire plant community responses. However, we contend that the study by Davies et al. has underlying methodological errors, lacks data necessary to support their conclusions, and does not provide a thorough discussion on the effect of grazing on rangeland ecosystems. Importantly, Davies et al. presented no data on the post-fire mortality of the perennial bunchgrasses or on the changes in plant community composition following their experimental fires. Rather, Davies et al. inferred these conclusions based on their observed fire behaviour metrics of maximum temperature and a term described as the heat load'. However, we contend that neither metric is appropriate for describing the heat flux impacts on plants. This lack of post-fire data, several methodological errors and the use of inappropriate thermal metrics limit the authors' ability to support their stated conclusions. © IAWF 2016

Smith, A. M. S., A. F. Talhelm, C. A. Kolden, B. A. Newingham, H. D. Adams, J. D. Cohen, K. M. Yedinak, and R. L. Kremens. 2016. The ability of winter grazing to reduce wildfire size and fire-induced plant mortality was not demonstrated: a comment on Davies et al. (2015). International Journal of Wildland Fire, v. 25, no. 4, p. 484-488. 10.1071/WF15163.