Fire Science Round-Up Winter 2016

Fire Science Round-Up: Winter 2016

Each quarter we endeavor to bring you a summary of research articles that are relevant to the Great Plains fire science community. We appreciate articles you send us to add to the next round-up. We also draw upon compilations of citations sent out monthly by Jason Greenlee of Current Titles in Wildland Fire.

Written by Kristen Kohlhepp, Graduate Student Volunteer


Halpern, C. B., J. A. Antos, D. McKenzie, and A. M. Olson. 2016. Past tree influence and prescribed fire mediate biotic interactions and community reassembly in a grassland-restoration experiment. Journal of Applied Ecology. Early view.

Tree removal can restore native meadow species; unburned plots had a greater increase in meadow species than burned plots. Meadow species inhibited native clonal sedge in both types of plots.



Guyette, R. P., M. C. Stambaugh, J. Marschall, and E. Abadir. 2015. An analytical approach to climate dynamics and fire frequency in the Great Plains. Great Plains Research 25: 139-150.

Annual maximum temperature from north to south, annual precipitation east to west, their interactions, and precipitation thresholds had the greatest effect on fire frequency. Fire intervals were estimated between less than 4 and greater than 30 years in the Great Plains. The authors predict that mid-altitude regions of the Great Plains will have an increase in annual fire.



DeGolier, T., J. Port, and S. P. Schottler. 2015. Small mammal habitat preferences in a patchwork of adjacent reconstructed grasslands subject to semiannual burns. Ecological Restoration 33: 388-394.

Meadow jumping mice preferred fields that had been burned. Meadow voles and northern short-tailed shrews preferred unburned areas with dense vegetation. The authors suggest that prescribed burning, to create different structural characteristics, may be more important than creating high floristic diversity.

Scasta, J. D., E. T. Thacker, T. J. Hovick, D. M. Engle, B. W. Allred, S. D. Fuhlendorf, and J. R. Weir. 2015. Patch-burn grazing (PBG) as a livestock management alternative for fire-prone ecosystems of North America. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems: 1-18.

This is a literature review addressing PBG as an alternative strategy for livestock management. PBG is a practical management approach to improve productivity and biodiversity in grassland ecosystems by utilizing both fire and grazing. PBG can optimize cattle production, maintain native herbaceous plant communities, and create a habitat mosaic.

Vazquez-Miranda, H., K. R. Barr, C. C. Farquhar, and R. M. Zink. 2015. Fluctuating fire regimes and their historical effects on genetic variation in an endangered shrubland specialist. Ecology and Evolution 5: 5487-5498.


Bayesian models for the black-capped vireo showed a pattern of historical population fluctuations consistent with changing fire regimes. Genetic data suggest that the current population should be larger than it currently is. The authors suggest that fire suppression and habitat loss are responsible for the decline of the black-capped vireo.

West, A. L., C. B. Zou, E. Stebler, S. D. Fuhlendorf, and B. Allred. 2016. Pyric-herbivory and hydrological responses in tallgrass prairie. Rangeland Ecology and Management. Early view.

Grazing distribution was altered in the presence of fire with cattle spending 70% of their time within recently burned areas. Aboveground biomass was the best indicator of runoff volumes.  

Fire Behavior

Twidwell, D., A.S. West, W.B. Hiatt, A.L. Ramirez, J. T. Winter, D. M. Engle, S.D. Fuhlendorf, and J. D. Carlson. 2015. Plant invasions or fire policy: which has altered fire behavior more in tallgrass prairie? Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s10021-015-9937-y 1-13.

Policies regulating prescribed fire in tallgrass prairie reduced the the magnitude and variability of surface fire behavior more than invasion by tall fescue or eastern redcedar invasion. Fire behavior is a function of social and ecological drivers.


Riddering, J., Z. A. Holden, W. M. Jolly, and A. Warren. 2015. Smartphone applications for data collection, dynamic modeling, and visualization in the wildland fire environment. Fire Management Today 74: 10-14.

Mobile technologies are becoming more readily available to collect and share data in the fire world. The fire weather calculator and TOPOFIRE are two applications that allow users to input traditional observations and then calculate critical information that can be shared with other users. Other applications allow users to upload photos (TOPOFIRE Photologger) or allow managers to fill in data sheets on mobile devices (Open Data Kit).


Leys, B., S. C. Brewer, S. McConaghy, and J. Mueller. 2015. Fire history reconstruction in grassland ecosystems: amount of charcoal reflects local area burned. Environmental Research Letters 10: 1-15.

Small and large charcoal particles likely reflect the same spatial scale of fire activity. Total charcoal amount was explained by the local area burned and the ratio of non-arboreal to total charcoal was explained by regional burning. The authors suggest that long-term studies can use small or large particles as an indicator of local area burned.


Jefferson, L., M. Pennacchio, and K. Havens-Young. 2014. Ecology of Plant-Derived Smoke: Its Use in Seed Germination 1st Edition. Oxford University Press. 336 p.

This book is a continuation of Uses and Abuses of Plant-Derived Smoke (2010) and focuses on the use of plant-derived smoke as a tool for promoting seed germination and growth. The authors present accounts of 1355 species of plants from 120 families whose seeds have been tested for responses to smoke.


Scott, A. C., D. M. J. S. Bowman, W. J. Bond, S. J. Pyne, and M. E. Alexander. 2014. Fire on Earth: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell Books. 413 p.

This textbook provides a synthesis of contemporary thinking, incorporating history, behavior, and ecological effects of fire on earth.


Pyne, S. J. 2015. Between Two Fires. University of Arizona Press. 539 p.

This book describes America’s fire revolution that began in the 1960s and leading up to today’s management practices. Pyne has constructed a historical record that will shape future fire management.