Fire Ecology, 2013
Volume 9, Issue 1
Tree Island Response to Fire and Flooding in the Short-Hydroperiod Marl Prairie Grasslands of the Florida Everglades, USA
Authors: Pablo L. Ruiz, Jay P. Sah, Michael S. Ross, and Adam A. Spitzig
Within the marl prairie grasslands of the Florida Everglades, USA, the combined effects of fire and flooding usually lead to very significant changes in tree island structure and composition. Depending on fire severity and post-fire hydroperiod, these effects vary spatially and temporally throughout the landscape, creating a patchy post-fire mosaic of tree islands with different successional states. Through the use of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and three predictor variables (marsh water table elevation at the time of fire, post-fire hydroperiod, and tree island size), along with logistic regression analysis, we examined the probability of tree island burning and recovering following the Mustang Corner Fire (May to June 2008) in Everglades National Park. Our data show that hydrologic conditions during and after fire, which are under varying degrees of management control, can lead to tree island contraction or loss. More specifically, the elevation of the marsh water table at the time of the fire appears to be the most important parameter determining the severity of fire in marl prairie tree islands. Furthermore, in the post-fire recovery phase, both tree island size and hydroperiod during the first year after the fire played important roles in determining the probability of tree island recovery, contraction, or loss.