Vol 6 | No 3 | December 2013
Pebble Hill Fireplots Plant Community Census
By Kevin Robertson, PhD, Fire Ecology Program Director
In October, the Fire Ecology lab completed the eight annual census of the plant communities burned at various fire frequencies in half-acre plots on Pebble Hill Plantation. Within two 100 m2 plots per whole plot, we identify the species of every plant that can be found. The long-term objective is to determine how burning at different fire frequencies influences plant species composition, and how those changes relate to the fires themselves versus changes in plant competition during the fire-free intervals. The study was recently streamlined to focus on three fire frequencies, those with 2-year, 3-Year, and 5-year fire return intervals.
On average, the 100 m2 plots contain 97 species, and 367 species have been identified within the plots as a whole. After a few more years and a summary analysis, the project will identify ideal fire frequencies for maximizing plant biodiversity while shedding light on life history characteristics of many individual species as they relate to fire.