Plant community responses to prescribed burning in Wisconsin sedge meadows

  • Published source details Kost M.A. & De Steven D. (2000) Plant community responses to prescribed burning in Wisconsin sedge meadows. Natural Areas Journal, 20, 36-45.


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, site comparison study in 1994 of eight sedge meadows in Wisconsin, USA (Kost & De Steven 2000) reported that burning reduced plant species richness in the short term and increased it in the long term, but found that burning typically had no significant effect on vegetation abundance after 1–8 growing seasons. Burned meadows had lower species richness than unburned meadows in three of five comparisons (burned ≤3 growing seasons previously: 27–30; unburned: 32–39 species/7.5 m2) but higher species richness in two of five comparisons (burned ≥4 growing seasons previously: 32–42; unburned: 26–39 species/7.5 m2). Statistical significance of richness results was not assessed. In two of five comparisons, burned meadows had higher cover of grasses (burned: 13–24%; unburned: 4%) and sedges/rushes (burned: 100–110%; unburned: 75%). Otherwise, vegetation abundance (grass cover, sedge/rush cover, forb cover, total live above-ground biomass) did not significantly or consistently differ between burned and unburned meadows. For data on these outcomes and on the cover of individual plant species, see original paper. Methods: In summer 1994, vegetation was surveyed in eight sedge meadows: five last burned, in spring, 1–8 growing seasons previously; three not burned for >30 years. Plant species and cover were recorded along three 100-m-long transects/meadow. Live vegetation was cut from five 0.1-m2 plots/meadow, then dried and weighed.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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