Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Fire as a global ‘herbivore’: the ecology and evolution of flammable ecosystems

July 1, 2005

It is difficult to find references to fire in general textbooks on ecology, conservation biology or biogeography, in spite of the fact that large parts of the world burn on a regular basis, and that there is a considerable literature on the ecology of fire and its use for managing ecosystems. Fire has been burning ecosystems for hundreds of millions of years, helping to shape global biome distribution and to maintain the structure and function of fire-prone communities. Fire is also a significant evolutionary force, and is one of the first tools that humans used to re-shape their world. Here, we review the recent literature, drawing parallels between fire and herbivores as alternative consumers of vegetation. We point to the common questions, and some surprisingly different answers, that emerge from viewing fire as a globally significant consumer that is analogous to herbivory.

Publication Year 2005
Title Fire as a global ‘herbivore’: the ecology and evolution of flammable ecosystems
DOI 10.1016/j.tree.2005.04.025
Authors William J. Bond, Jon E. Keeley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70190597
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center