Study

Burning wetlands: the influence of fire on wetland vegetation structure and composition

  • Published source details Luvuno L. (2013) Burning wetlands: the influence of fire on wetland vegetation structure and composition. Masters Thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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, before-and-after study of two degraded freshwater marshes in South Africa (Luvuno 2013) reported that prescribed burning reduced total plant diversity, but had mixed effects across sites on tree density and height. Unless specified, statistical significance was not assessed. In both sites, plant species diversity was lower five months after burning than just before (data reported as a diversity index). In the drier site (Z34), the overall tree density was significantly lower after burning than before. Density declined for 8 of 10 species (before: 1–23; after: 0–18 trees/species/0.25 ha). The average height of trees was statistically similar before (0–4 m) and after (0–5 m) burning. In the wetter site (Z49), burning had no significant effect on the overall tree density. Although density declined for 5 of 8 species (before: 2–8; after: 0–3 trees/species/0.25 ha), this was compensated for by increases in 2 of 8 species (before: 0–2; after: 1–12 trees/species/0.25 ha). The average height of trees was significantly lower after burning (0–1 m) than before (0–3 m). Mature trees (>2 m tall) were more likely to be killed in the wetter site, where ferns created taller flames. Methods: The two studied wetlands were within a forest plantation where natural fire was suppressed. As a result, woody vegetation was colonizing the wetlands. Vegetation was surveyed along four 50-m transects/wetland, before and five months after a prescribed burn (dates and methods not reported). Tree measurements included seedlings, saplings and mature trees.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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