Prescribed fire effects on the herbaceous layer of mixed-oak forests

  • Published source details Hutchinson T.F., Boerner R.E., Sutherland S., Sutherland E.K., Ortt M. & Iverson L.R. (2005) Prescribed fire effects on the herbaceous layer of mixed-oak forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 35, 877-890.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed fire: effect on understory plants

Action Link
Forest Conservation
  1. Use prescribed fire: effect on understory plants

    A replicated, controlled study in 1994-1999 in temperate oak forest in Ohio, USA (Hutchinson et al. 2005) found that prescribed burning increased plant species richness on a small scale, but not on a larger-scale. Species richness of all plants within 2 m2 plots was higher in burned plots (burned: 18; unburned: 16/2 m2). Species richness of annual forbs (burned: >1; unburned: <1/2 m2), summer-flowering forbs (burned: 4; unburned: 32/ m2), grasses (burned: >1; unburned: <1/2 m2) and woody seed-banking species (burned: >1; unburned: <1/2 m2) was higher in burned plots. Species richness of shade-tolerant tree seedlings (burned: <2; unburned: >2/2 m2) and oak–hickory tree seedlings (burned: 1; unburned: >1/2 m2) was higher in unburned plots. Species richness of spring-flowering forbs (4-5/2 m2), sedges (1/2 m2) and shrubs (2/2 m2) was similar between treatments. Species richness within larger 1,250 m2 plots was similar between treatments (burned: 67; unburned: 63/1,250 m2). Two burned (annually 1996-1999 and twice in 1996 and 1999) and one unburned treatment units (25 ha) were replicated at four sites. Data were collected in 1999 using 16 quadrats (2 m2) in each of nine plots (1,250 m2) within each treatment unit.


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