Study

Effects of prescribed fall burning on a wetland plant community, with implications for management of plants and herbivores

  • Published source details McWilliams S.R., Sloat T., Toft C.A. & Hatch D. (2007) Effects of prescribed fall burning on a wetland plant community, with implications for management of plants and herbivores. Western North American Naturalist, 67, 299-317.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

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

    A replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1989–1991 in a riparian wet meadow in California, USA (McWilliams et al. 2007) found that prescribed burning changed the overall plant community composition and increased plant diversity, but had no significant effect on plant species richness or the proportion of native species. Over two years, burning had a significant effect on the overall plant community composition (reported as statistical model results). The effect of burning on the relative abundance of individual species depended on the year and community type, but burning generally reduced the relative abundance of the most common species (see original paper for data). Accordingly, plant diversity increased more in burned than unburned plots (data reported as a diversity index). However, plant species richness increased by a similar amount in burned plots (from 5–6 species/plot to 5–11 species/plot) and unburned plots (from 5–7 species/plot to 5–11 species/plot). Burning has no significant effect on the proportion of native plant species (data not reported). Methods: Eight plots (approximately 50 x 460 m) were established in a seasonally flooded wet meadow. The meadow was grazed by livestock until 1988, then managed for waterfowl without grazing. Four plots were burned in November 1990 and December 1991. Vegetation was surveyed along two transects/plot before (August–September 1990) and approximately nine months after each burn (September 1991 and 1992). Data were split by plant community type for analysis.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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