Study

Effects of fire on brackish marsh communities: management implications

  • Published source details Hackney C.T. & de la Cruz A.A. (1981) Effects of fire on brackish marsh communities: management implications. Wetlands, 1, 75-86.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: brackish/salt marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: brackish/salt marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: brackish/salt marshes

    A controlled, before-and-after study in 1977–1979 in a brackish marsh in Mississippi, USA (Hackney & de la Cruz 1981) reported that a prescribed burn temporarily reduced the biomass and height of black rush Juncus roemerianus, but persistently reduced dominance of black rush and big cordgrass Spartina cynosuroides. Statistical significance was not assessed. One study area was initially dominated by black rush. Before burning, above-ground rush biomass was 520 g/m2 (live) and 1,080 g/m2 (dead). In the first six months after burning, black rush biomass was depressed (live: 5–360; dead: 0–84 g/m2). Over the following 30 months, live black rush biomass recovered (290–820 g/m2) whilst dead biomass remained depressed (43–740 g/m2). The maximum height of black rush was 153, 182 and 214 cm respectively in plots one- two- and three- years after burning, compared to 203 cm in unburned plots. Across these plots, black rush comprised only 56–87% of the plant biomass in burned plots (vs 62–94% in unburned plots). Another study area was initially dominated by big cordgrass. It comprised only 1–97% of the plant biomass in burned plots (vs 62–99% in unburned plots). Methods: In early 1977, 1978 or 1979, some plots in rush- or cordgrass-dominated areas of a tidal brackish marsh were burned once. Some additional plots were left unburned. The marsh was historically burned, but not since 1973. Vegetation was surveyed until November 1979. The study does not report further methodological details.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

  2. Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: brackish/salt marshes

    A controlled study in 1977–1979 in a brackish marsh in Mississippi, USA (Hackney & de la Cruz 1981) reported that cutting reduced black rush Juncus roemerianus height and dominance, and reduced big cordgrass Spartina cynosuroides dominance. Statistical significance was not assessed. In an initially rush-dominated area, black rush reached a maximum height of 130–134 cm in cut plots, in the year following the final cut (vs 203 cm in uncut plots). Rushes comprised only 39–80% of all plant biomass in cut plots (vs 62–94% in uncut plots). In an initially cordgrass-dominated area, cordgrass comprised only 33–97% of all plant biomass in cut plots (vs 61–99% in uncut plots). Methods: Plots in a tidal brackish marsh, dominated by black rush or big cordgrass, were cut once (1979), twice (1978 and 1979) or three times (1977, 1978 and 1979). Some additional plots were left uncut. Cutting was done in winter and cuttings were removed. The marsh was historically burned, but not since 1973. Vegetation was surveyed from April to November 1979. The study does not report further details of the methods.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 19

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.


Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust