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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effects of Invasive Alien Plants on Fire Regimes

Authors
item Brooks, Matt - USGS-BRD
item D Antonio, Carla
item Richardson, David - UNIV. OF CAPE TOWN
item Grace, James - USGS-BRD
item Keeley, Jon - USGS-BRD
item Ditomaso, Joseph - UC DAVIS, CA
item Hobbs, Richard - MURDOCH UNIVERSITY
item Pellant, Mike - BLM
item Pyke, David - USGS-BRD

Submitted to: Bioscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 11, 2003
Publication Date: July 1, 2004
Citation: Brooks, M.L., D Antonio, C.M., Richardson, D.M., Grace, J.B., Keeley, J.E., Ditomaso, J.M., Hobbs, R.J., Pellant, M., Pyke, D. 2004. Effects of invasive alien plants on fire regimes. Bioscience. 54(7): 677-688.

Interpretive Summary: Over the past two decades it has become recognized that invasive introduced plants are altering fire regimes in many sites throughout the world. Most previous research on this topic has focused on invasions by fire- enhancing introduced grasses and while these have important impacts in terms of ecosystem functioning in many areas, there are other ways in which introduced plants can interact with historic fire regimes and thereby cause changes to ecosystems. This manuscript details the many pathways through which invasive alien plants can alter fire regimes and some of the potential outcomes of these alterations. It presents a framework for doing so based on fuel characteristics of resident and invading species and on the time course over which invasion occurs. The manuscript is meant to provide a broad background for managers and the interested public from which to approach both concern for and management of invaders that can alter fire regimes.

Technical Abstract: Technical Abstract: Plant invasions are widely recognized as one of the primary threats to biodiversity conservation worldwide. Although their effects on native plants can be significant, the ways invading plants can alter fire regimes are generally more dramatic and difficult to reverse. Invaders can change fuelbeds as they replace native plants. These fuelbed changes can affect fire behavior and ultimately, fire regime characteristics such as frequency, intensity, extent, type and seasonality of fire. If the regime changes subsequently promote the dominance of the invaders, then an invasive plant/fire regime cycle can be established. Whether fire is promoted or suppressed by invaders, altered fire regimes can broadly affect native ecosystems. As more ecosystem components and interactions are altered, restoration of pre-invasion conditions becomes more difficult. Restoration may require managing fuel conditions, fire regimes, native plant communities and other ecosystem properties, in addition to the invaders that caused changes in the first place.

Last Modified: 7/12/2014
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