Gaps in scientific knowledge about fire and nonnative invasive plants
Document Type: Book Chapter
Author(s): Kristin L. Zouhar; Gregory T. Munger; Jane Kapler Smith
Editor(s): Kristin L. Zouhar; Jane Kapler Smith; Steve Sutherland; Matthew L. Brooks
Publication Year: 2008

Cataloging Information

  • distribution
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • FEIS - Fire Effects Information System
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • forest management
  • heat
  • heat effects
  • invasive species
  • knowledge gap
  • literature review
  • nonnative invasive plants
  • phenology
  • plant communities
  • post-fire recovery
  • regeneration
  • reproduction
  • seed dispersal
  • seed germination
  • seed production
  • succession
  • vegetation surveys
  • wildfires
  • wildland fire
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 7283
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24010
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: A13.88:RMRS-42 v.6
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.


The potential for nonnative, invasive plants to alter an ecosystem depends on species traits, ecosystem characteristics, and the effects of disturbances, including fire. This study identifies gaps in science-based knowledge about the relationships between fire and nonnative invasive plants in the United States. The literature was searched for information on 60 nonnative invasives. Information was synthesized and placed online in the Fire Effects Information System (FEIS,, and sources were tallied for topics considered crucial for understanding each species' relationship to fire. These tallies were analyzed to assess knowledge gaps. Fewer than half of the species examined had high-quality information on heat tolerance, postfire establishment, effects of varying fire regimes (severities, seasons, and intervals between burns), or long-term effects of fire. Information was generally available on biological and ecological characteristics relating to fire, although it was sometimes incomplete. Most information about species distribution used too coarse a scale or unsystematic observations, rendering it of little help in assessing invasiveness and invasibility of ecosystems, especially in regard to fire. Quantitative information on the impact of nonnative plants on native plant communities and long-term effects on ecosystems was sparse. Researchers can improve the knowledge available on nonnative invasive plants for managers by applying rigorous scientific methods and reporting the scope of the research, in both scientific papers and literature reviews. Managers can use this knowledge most effectively by applying scientific findings with caution appropriate to the scope of the research, monitoring treatment results over longer periods of time, and adapting management techniques as new information becomes available.

Online Link(s):
Zouhar, Kristin; Munger, Gregory T.; Smith, Jane Kapler. 2008. Gaps in scientific knowledge about fire and nonnative invasive plants. In: Zouhar, Kristin; Smith, Jane Kapler; Sutherland, Steve; Brooks, Matthew L. (Eds). Wildland fire in ecosystems: fire and nonnative invasive plants. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 6. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 243-260.