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Fire Ecology, 2015
Volume 11, Issue 3

Simulating Grassland Prescribed Fires Using Experimental Approaches
Authors: Katherine C. Kral, Ryan F. Limb, Torre J. Hovick, Devan Allen McGranahan, Aaron L. Field, and Peter L. O'Brien
Pages: 34-44
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.1103034

Small-scale fire approaches, like burn boxes, burn tables, and propane burners, are often used to facilitate experimental control over fire and allow greater replication.  We compared characteristics of grassland prescribed fires to three experimental approaches to determine if these approaches simulate prescribed fires.  We conducted prescribed fires during the growing and dormant season to compare with burn box, burn table, and propane prong approaches.  Burn box and burn table approaches used additional timothy (Phleum spp. L.) hay for a fuel source, while the propane prong used propane to burn in situ and greenhouse-grown plants.  We collected temperature data with thermocouples to determine time-temperature profiles, maximum temperatures, heat durations (time above 60 °C), and heat dosages (the product of time and temperature above 60 °C).  Fires produced by burn box, burn table, and prescribed fires had similarly shaped time-temperature profiles, but propane prong fires produced different curves with a longer duration near the maximum temperature.  Burn box and burn table approaches had the highest heat dosages because timothy hay burned completely compared to in situ vegetation in prescribed fires.  To simulate prescribed fires, propane rates should be regulated—either increased or decreased—to produce time-temperature profiles consistent with prescribed fires.  Moreover, approaches using added hay often result in higher heat dosages and may require decreased fuel loading to match research objectives.

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