University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

Experiment 133 - Effect of Burning Patterns on Vegetation in the Fish Lake Burn Compartments



This study examines the effects of long-term prescribed burning treatments on vegetation structure and composition, productivity, and nutrient cycling in upland oak savanna and woodland vegetation. The basis for the study is an ongoing, experimental prescribed burning program begun in 1964 at Cedar Creek, and a similar program operating since 1962 on the adjacent Helen Allison Savanna property (owned by The Nature Conservancy). These prescribed burning programs are designed to subject upland oak communities (and some old fields) to different burn frequencies and patterns of burning, with the ultimate objectives of 1) restoring and maintaining the historically important savanna and open woodland vegetation, and 2) providing information about the effects of different burning patterns on vegetation structure and composition. This study addresses the latter of these two purposes and expands on it by also investigating possible influences of fire on resource availability (nutrients, water, and light) and net primary productivity. This study represents a continuation and expansion of experiments 015 and 094.

Key Results

We have examined the impact of fire, vegetation, and plant-insect interactions on biogeochemical cycling (Laungani and Knops 2009ab, Dijkstra et al. 2006ab, Kay et al. 2007, 2008, and Hobbie 2010, Knops and Bradley 2009) and plant, bird, and mutualist communities (Chapman and Reich 2007, Peterson et al. 2007, Peterson and Reich 2008, Dickie et al. 2005, 2007, 2009a), as well as the interactive role of plant-mutualist interactions (Dickie et al. 2007) and tree-shrub interactions (Pelc et al. 2011) on the dynamics of the plant community. 
We have found that phylogenetic relatedness corresponds with spatial scale and environmental variation and species responses to fire in the savanna burn treatments (Willis et al. 2010, Cavender-Bares and Reich 2012). These studies show that traits influencing patterns of phylogenetic beta-diversity along a gradient of fire frequency may have originated as long as 80 million years ago (Fig. 1). 
Fig 1.  The influence of prescribed burning and the 1988 drought on phylogenetic beta diversity in the oak savanna burn experiment from 1984-2010. Circle sizes are proportional to relative abundance. Frequently burned communities (red) had the highest species richness, the most resource-conservative leaf traits, and spanned the greatest number of lineages, but had more close relatives within lineages. Unburned communities (blue) had the lowest diversity and the fewest lineages, but close relatives co-occurred less frequently. Phylogenetic turnover between treatments is greatest ~80 million years ago (red line). (Cavender-Bares & Reich, in press)

Methods for e133


Datasets for e133: Effect of Burning Patterns on Vegetation in the Fish Lake Burn Compartments

Dataset IDTitleRange of Years (# years with data)
afme133Aboveground plant tissue carbon and nitrogen1999-2001 (3 years)
afne133Annual oak leaf canopy litter percent carbon and nitrogen2003-2006 (4 years)
herbe133Herb Survey1984-2015 (8 years)
lite133Litter biomass1995-2015 (20 years)
lpe133Percent light penetration2000-2010 (2 years)
ple133Plant aboveground biomass data1999-2002 (4 years)
dse133Plant density1984-1984 (1 year)
aafe133Plant traits2005-2005 (1 year)
aeqe133Plant traits SLA CN percent cover2004-2005 (2 years)
rbe133Root biomass data1999-2010 (10 years)
rie133Root ingrowth biomass1999-2007 (9 years)
afle133Root tissue carbon and nitrogen1999-2004 (4 years)
sape133Sapling survey2000-2015 (4 years)
shrube133Shrub Survey1995-2015 (5 years)
cae133Soil Calcium2002-2002 (1 year)
bde133Soil bulk density2002-2002 (1 year)
scfe133Soil carbon flux1999-2005 (7 years)
mge133Soil magnesium2002-2002 (1 year)
hoe133Soil moisture1999-2002 (4 years)
ne133Soil nitrogen1984-1984 (1 year)
care133Soil percent organic matter1984-1984 (1 year)
afoe133Soil phosphorous2002-2002 (1 year)
ke133Soil potassium2002-2002 (1 year)
nae133Soil sodium2002-2002 (1 year)
tree133Tree survey1984-2010 (6 years)

Selected Recent Publications

Antao, L. H., Connolly, S. R., Magurran, A. E., Soares, A. and Dornelas, M. (2017). "Prevalence of multimodal species abundance distributions is linked to spatial and taxonomic breadth." Global Ecology and Biogeography 26(2): 203-215. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12532 2017 e133

Dee, Justin Robert, and Michael Palmer. "Annual Rings of Perennial Forbs and Mature Oaks Show Similar Effects of Climate but Inconsistent Responses to Fire in the North American Prairie ?Forest Ecotone." Canadian Journal of Forest Research, accepted manuscript 2017 e133

Frelich, L. E. (2017). "Wildland Fire: Understanding and Maintaining an Ecological Baseline." Current Forestry Reports. DOI: 10.1007/s40725-017-0062-3 2017 e133

Frelich, L. E., Reich, P. B. and Peterson, D. W. (2017). "The changing role of fire in mediating the relationships among oaks, grasslands, mesic temperate forests, and boreal forests in the Lake States." Journal of Sustainable Forestry 36(5): 421-432. DOI: 10.1080/10549811.2017.1296777 2017 e133

Antao, L., Connolly, S. R., Magurran, A. E., Soares, A. and Dornelas, M. (2016), Prevalence of multimodal species abundance distributions is linked to spatial and taxonomic breadth. Global Ecol. Biogeogr. doi:10.1111/geb.12532 2016 e133

Frelich, Lee E.; Reich, Peter B.; Peterson, David W. Fire in upper Midwestern oak forest ecosystems: an oak forest restoration and management handbook 2015, PNW-GTR-914, 10/8/2015, US Forest Service - Research & Development, Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station., 2015 [Full Text] e133

Schrodt, Franziska; Kattge, Jens; Shan, Hanhuai; Fazayeli, Farideh; Joswig, Julia; Banerjee, Arindam; Reichstein, Markus; B?nisch, Gerhard; D?az, Sandra; Dickie, John; Gillison, Andy; Karpatne, Anuj; Lavorel, Sandra; Leadley, Paul; Wirth, Christian B.; Wright, Ian J.; Wright, S.Joseph; Reich, Peter B. BHPMF - a hierarchical Bayesian approach to gap-filling and trait prediction for macroecology and functional biogeography. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2015, DOI: 10.1111/geb.12335 2015 [Full Text] e133 e141

Dempsey, PC.; Characteristics that contribute to nest success of endangered Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). Minnesota Academy of Science Journal of Student Research. 2013. 1: 1-10. 2013 [Full Text] e133

Cavender-Bares, J.; Reich, P.; Shocks to the system: Community assembly of the oak savanna in a 40-year fire frequency experiment.; Ecology; 2012; 93, 8, S52-S69 2012 [Full Text] e015; e133

Moles, Angela T.; Flores-Moreno, Habacuc; Bonser, Stephen P.; Warton, David I.; Helm, Aveliina; Warman, Laura; Eldridge, David J.; Jurado, Enrique; Hemmings, Frank A.; Reich, Peter B.; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine; Seabloom, Eric W.; Mayfield, Margaret M.; Sheil, Douglas; Djietror, Jonathan C.; Peri, Pablo L.; Enrico, Lucas; Cabido, Marcelo R.; Setterfield, Samantha A.; Lehmann, Caroline E. R.; Thomson, Fiona J.; Invasions: the trail behind, the path ahead, and a test of a disturbing idea. Journal of Ecology; 2012; 100, 1, 116-127. 2012 [Full Text] e133

Norris, M. D.; Avis, P. G.; Hobbie, S. E.; Reich, P. B.; Positive feedback between decomposition and soil nitrogen availability gradients. 2012. Plant and Soil; DOI: 10.1007/s11104-012-1449-3 2012 [Full Text] e133 e142