Change season/timing of prescribed burning: freshwater marshes

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Source countries

Key messages

  • One study evaluated the effects, on vegetation, of burning freshwater marshes in different seasons or at different times. The study was in the USA.

VEGETATION COMMUNITY

  • Overall richness/diversity (1 study): One replicated, randomized, controlled study in a marsh in the USA found that spring-burned plots had greater plant species richness than summer-burned plots, at the end of the growing season.

VEGETATION ABUNDANCE

  • Overall abundance (1 study): One replicated, randomized, controlled study in a marsh in the USA found that spring-burned plots had greater overall vegetation cover than summer-burned plots, at the end of the growing season.
  • Individual species abundance (1 study): The same study reported that the cover and frequency of some individual plant species responded differently to spring vs summer burning.

VEGETATION STRUCTURE

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1992 in an ephemeral freshwater marsh in Missouri, USA (Laubhan 1995) found that spring-burned plots had greater plant species richness and overall vegetation cover than summer-burned plots at the end of the growing season, and supported a different abundance of individual plant species. At the end of September, spring-burned plots had greater plant species richness (5.5 species/m2) than summer-burned plots (2.6 species/m2). Spring-burned plots had greater overall vegetation cover (94%) than summer-burned plots (23%). The most abundant plant species in spring-burned plots included ricecut grass Leersia oryzoides (cover: 50%; frequency: 97%), beggarticks Bidens spp. (cover: 31%; frequency: 100%) and marsh elder Iva ciliata (cover: 17%; frequency: 90%). The most abundant species in summer-burned plots included ricecut grass (cover: 5%; frequency: 97%) and sesbania Sesbania exaltala (cover: 5%; frequency: 70%). Beggarticks and marsh elder each had <1% cover and occurred in only 3% of quadrats, on average. Methods: In 1992, six 0.1-ha plots were established in a freshwater marsh managed for waterfowl (i.e. winter flooding followed by spring or summer drawdown). Three random plots were burned in spring (early April) and three were burned in summer (late July). In the summer-burned plots, vegetation was mown three days before burning. Cover of every plant species, and bare ground, were recorded in late September 1992 in ten 1-m2 quadrats/plot.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Taylor N.G., Grillas P., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Marsh and Swamp Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions to Conserve Marsh and Swamp Vegetation. Conservation Evidence Series Synopses. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Marsh and Swamp Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Marsh and Swamp Conservation
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Marsh and Swamp Conservation - Published 2021

Marsh and Swamp Synopsis

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