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Effect of repeated fire on annual brome invasion at Badlands National Park

December 31, 2022

Prescribed fire is used to combat exotic plant species in mixed-grass prairie of Northern Great Plains parks. However, prescribed fires rarely occur at a frequency likely to maintain any gains against exotic species. The unusual circumstance of experimental plots being burned twice in 2 years provides a unique opportunity to investigate the effect of more frequent fire on invasive annual brome grasses. I established 40 plots on Sheep Mountain Table at Badlands National Park in 2015 to examine the relative effectiveness of prescribed fire alone or in combination with imazapic (an herbicide) application or with native seeding. Ten of the 40 plots were controls, with no experimental treatment; the remainder were burned with a prescribed fire in November 2016, and the herbicide and seeding treatments were applied soon thereafter to 10 plots each. In the 2018 growing season, annual brome abundance remained lower in the burned plots than in the controls, but monitoring by the National Park Service’s Northern Great Plains Fire Effects programs suggests that, by 5 years (or perhaps earlier) following a prescribed fire, annual brome abundance will return to its pre-fire level.  Repeated fires may prevent this return if they sufficiently reduce the annual brome seedbank or produce conditions less conducive to annual brome growth (reduced litter layer or increased competition, for example). All plots in this experiment burned as part of a larger prescribed fire in fall 2018. This extension of the original study measures plant community composition (to species level) in the experimental plots (original control and burn only) after the 2018 prescribed fire; this report provides the results from the fourth growing season after that fire.

Publication Year 2022
Title Effect of repeated fire on annual brome invasion at Badlands National Park
Authors Amy Symstad
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title Annual Report
Index ID 70242769
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center