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Long-term effects of a summer fire on desert grassland plant demographics in New Mexico

Robert R. Parmenter


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

The authors examined the effects of a prescribed fire on desert short-grass steppe vegetation on plant mortality, survivorship, and regeneration as well as the effects on non-native species composition and shrub invations for 12 years post-fire.

Publication findings:

Native grassland plant species showed a wide variety of responses to the summer prescribed fire; however, most of the 14 species studies were fire tolerant and either survived the fire or quickly resprouted post-fire within 10-12 years. Exceptions, such as black grama grass, chollas, snakeweed, and fourwing saltbush were highly susceptible to fire and exhibited both high mortality and slow regeneration rates. However, established individuals of the invading shrub creosotebush were highly tolerant of fire, so prescribed fire may not be effective at removing these species. Still, the authors suggest that more frequent fire may reduce creosotebush and other woody shrub recruitment.

Fire and Ecosystem Effects Linkages

Native grassland plant species showed a wide variety of responses to the summer prescribed fire; however, most of the 14 species studies were fire tolerant and either survived the fire or quickly resprouted post-fire within 10-12 years. Exceptions, such as black grama grass, chollas, snakeweed, and fourwing saltbush were highly susceptible to fire and exhibited both high mortality and slow regeneration rates.

Native grassland plant species showed a wide variety of responses to the summer prescribed fire; however, most of the 14 species studies were fire tolerant and either survived the fire or quickly resprouted post-fire within 10-12 years. Exceptions, such as black grama grass, chollas, snakeweed, and fourwing saltbush were highly susceptible to fire and exhibited both high mortality and slow regeneration rates. The authors suggest that more frequent fire may reduce creosotebush and other woody shrub recruitment.

Native grassland plant species showed a wide variety of responses to the summer prescribed fire; however, most of the 14 species studies were fire tolerant and either survived the fire or quickly resprouted post-fire within 10-12 years. Exceptions, such as black grama grass, chollas, snakeweed, and fourwing saltbush were highly susceptible to fire and exhibited both high mortality and slow regeneration rates. However, established individuals of the invading shrub creosotebush were highly tolerant of fire, so prescribed fire may not be effective at removing these species. Still, the authors suggest that more frequent fire may reduce creosotebush and other woody shrub recruitment.