Disturbance from fire can affect the abundance and distribution of shrubs and grasses in arid ecosystems. In particular, fire may increase grass and forb production while hindering shrub encroachment. Therefore, prescribed fires are a common management tool for maintaining grassland habitats in the southwest. However, Bouteloua eriopoda (black grama), a dominant species in Chihuahuan Desert grassland, is highly susceptible to fire resulting in death followed by slow recovery rates. A prescribed fire on the Sevilleta National Wildlife refuge in central New Mexico in 2003 provided the opportunity to study the effects of infrequent fires on vegetation in this region. This study was conducted along a transition zone where creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata) are encroaching on a black grama grassland. Before and after the fire, above ground plant productivity and composition were monitored from 2003 to present. Following the prescribed fire, there were fewer individual grass clumps and less above ground grass cover in burned areas compared to unburned areas. This decrease in productivity was primarily from a loss of B. eriopoda. Specifically, B. eriopoda density and cover were significantly lower following the fire with a slow recovery rate in the five years following the fire. Other grasses showed no such adverse response to burning.
Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) Identifier
Data Policies: This dataset is released to the public and may be freely downloaded. Please keep the designated Contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement of the Sevilleta LTER. Datasets must be cited as in the example provided. A copy of any publications using these data must be supplied to the Sevilleta LTER Information Manager. By downloading any data you implicitly acknowledge the LTER Data Policy (http://www.lternet.edu/data/netpolicy.html).
Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project
2004-05-18 - 2010-04-14
McKenzie Flats is located within the northeastern section of the Sevilleta NWR, encompassing an area from Black Butte south to Palo Duro Canyon and east to the Los Pinos.
Muldavin, Esteban; Collins, Scott (2010-09-15): 2003 Prescribed Burn Effect on Chihuahuan Desert Grasses and Shrubs at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico: Species Composition Study (2004-present). Long Term Ecological Research Network. http://dx.doi.org/10.6073/pasta/7d62bbb0e65c4b8f3728a8888d40421a