Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-14-2016


Understanding the ecological role of fire in fire-adapted plant communities is of great importance for restoration and preservation; however, limited research has been conducted on the response of upper elevation, C3 grassland plant communities to wildfire. This study investigates the effects of the Las Conchas wildfire of 2011 on plant community structure and function in the montane valley grasslands of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, USA. Long term monitoring of nine burned and seven unburned grassland sites was used to measure vegetation composition and dynamics both spatially and temporally relative to fire. Results show that these fire-adapted plant communities are highly resilient to fire; fire had no significant effects on composition or structure beyond the normal range of variability. Instead, climatic drivers had the greatest influence on plant community dynamics over time. These results support land and fire management efforts to restore historic fire regimes which will help maintain grassland integrity and resilience in the face of a changing climate.




Montane valley grassland, Fire, Fire-adapted grassland, Plant Community, Resilience

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Scott Collins

Second Committee Member

Esteban Muldavin

Third Committee Member

Robert Parmenter

Included in

Biology Commons