Full Citation: Abella, Scott R. 2009. Post-fire plant recovery in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of western north America. Journal of Arid Environments 73(8):699-707.
External Identifier(s): 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.03.003 Digital Object Identifier
Location: Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert, southwestern U.S. and Mexico.
Ecosystem types: Warm desert ecosystem
Southwest FireCLIME Keywords: None
FRAMES Keywords: Achnatherum, arid regions, Arizona, cover, deserts, disturbance, Encelia, fire frequency, fire management, Gutierrezia, land management, Larrea tridentata, Sonoran Desert, plant communities, post-fire recovery, range management, Salsola, Sphaeralcea, sprouting, succession, wildfires, Yucca, burn, community, contingency effects, disturbance, succession, wildfire, literature review, contingency actions, vegetation recovery, Mojave Desert, Mexico

Post-fire plant recovery in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of western North America

Scott R. Abella


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

This paper is a systematic review of vegetation recovery in warm deserts post-fire. The authors evaluated post-fire species composition based on time-since-fire and each desert, post-fire sprouting frequency, and perennial plant cover establishment.


Publication findings:

Perennial vegetation in burned areas were able to reestablish to pre-fire levels after approximately 40 years post-fire; however, community composition was slower to recover. Specifically, several species in the Cactaceae family were slowest to recover or absent 40 years after fire and may require centuries to recolonize burned areas. Invasive species colonization or climate change may interfere with community development in the future and a better understanding of post-fire recovery of arid lands is needed.

Fire and Ecosystem Effects Linkages

Perennial vegetation in burned areas were able to reestablish to pre-fire levels after approximately 40 years post-fire; however, community composition was slower to recover. Specifically, several species in the Cactaceae family were slowest to recover or absent 40 years after fire and may require centuries to recolonize burned areas. Invasive species colonization or climate change may interfere with community development in the future and a better understanding of post-fire recovery of arid lands is needed.