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Does prescribed fire benefit wetland vegetation?

January 11, 2011

The effects of fire on wetland vegetation in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States are poorly known, despite the historical use of fire by federal, state, and private landowners in the Chesapeake Bay Region. Prescribed fire is widely used by land managers to promote vegetation that is beneficial to migratory waterfowl, muskrats, and other native wildlife and to reduce competition from less desirable plant species. We compared vegetative response to two fire rotations, annual burns and 3-year burns, and two control sites, Control 1 and Control 2. We tested the effects of fire within six tidal marsh wetlands at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area in Maryland. We examined changes in total live biomass (all species), total stem density, litter, and changes in live biomass and stem density of four dominant wetland plant species (11 variables). Our results suggest that annual prescribed fires will decrease the accumulation of litter, increase the biomass and stem densities of some wetland plants generally considered less desirable for wildlife, and have little or no effect on other wetland plants previously thought to benefit from fire.

Publication Year 2011
Title Does prescribed fire benefit wetland vegetation?
DOI 10.1007/s13157-010-0131-x
Authors C. Flores, D.L. Bounds, D.E. Ruby
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wetlands
Index ID 70036904
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse