Ecology of Fire in Grasslands

Author: Daubenmire, R.

Description: This chapter reviews the ecology of fire in grasslands. It describes several generalizations such as environmental alterations, effects on species of plants, effects on vegetation, and associated animals. The grassland essentially includes any herb-dominated vegetation, herb dominated layers of savanna or open forests. Lightning is considered a universal natural cause of vegetation fires. A wide variety of other non-anthropeic causes of fire include volcanic eruptions, spontaneous combustion, and the occurrence of sparks when boulders roll down a slope. It is noted that these natural fires have been occurring from the earliest appearance of land vegetation. Their effect is to injure a plant community to a greater or lesser degree, after which the community escapes similar disturbance for sufficient time to allow a restoration of its former structure and composition. Grass fires are characterized by a rather narrow zone of flames advancing across a finely divided and homogeneously dispersed fuel. The fine texture of fuel makes it more sensitive to weather change than is true of woody aerial stems.

Subject headings: Grasslands; Fire; Burning; Lightning; Plants; Prairie

Publication year: 1968

Journal or book title: Advances in Ecological Research

Volume: 5

Pages: 209-266

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Serial number: 3618

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