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Long-term experimental fire seasonality research on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge

Status: 
Complete
Dates: 
May, 2007 to May, 2017

Background

An image of a prescribed burn with a ATV with fire tools and a firefighter administering the fire using torches. The image is hazy due to the heat from the fire. A yucca plant in the center of the image is on fire among an otherwise light green landscape
Prescribed burning on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in collaboration with the Sevilleta long-term experimental fire seasonality research, the University of New Mexico, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Prescribed fire is applied widely as a management tool in North America to meet various objectives such as reducing fuel loads and fuel continuity, returning fire to an ecosystem, enhancing wildlife habitats, improving forage, preparing seedbeds, improving watershed conditions, enhancing nutrient cycling, controlling exotic weeds, and enhancing resilience from climate change. Regardless of the particular objective, fire affects ecosystem structure, composition, and function in many ways.

Approach

Land managers frequently use prescribed burning to help maintain grassland communities. Semiarid grassland dynamics following fire are linked to precipitation, with increasing soil moisture accelerating the rate of recovery. Prescribed fires are typically scheduled to follow natural fire regimes, but burning outside the natural fire season could be equally effective and more convenient for managers, depending on their management objectives. We conducted a field experiment in desert grassland to determine if fire seasonality influenced plant community recovery. Extended drought was possibly more influential than fire on grassland dynamics. Project participants reburned in 2017 to examine the effects of frequency of fire.

An photograph of a prescribed burn with the burned area in the foreground, unburned yucca plants poking through the dark areas. Firefighters and an ATV are beyond the burn, blue skies and mountains in the distance.
Prescribed burning on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in collaboration with the Sevilleta long-term experimental fire seasonality research, the University of New Mexico, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

 

Publications

Block, William M. ; Conner, L. Mike ; Brewer, Paul A. ; Ford, Paulette L. ; Haufler, Jonathan ; Litt, Andrea ; Masters, Ronald E. ; Mitchell, Laura R. ; Park, Jane , 2016
Ladwig, Laura M. ; Collins, Scott L. ; Ford, Paulette L. ; White, Laura B. , 2014


Project Contact: 


Collaborators:
Sevilleta LTER
University of New Mexico
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service