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Effects of Prescribed Burning on Andropogon scoparius in Postagricultural Grasslands in Connecticut

William A. Niering and Glenn D. Dreyer
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 122, No. 1 (Jul., 1989), pp. 88-102
DOI: 10.2307/2425686
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2425686
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Effects of Prescribed Burning on Andropogon scoparius in Postagricultural Grasslands in Connecticut
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Abstract

Since 1968 postagricultural Andropogon scoparius grasslands have been subjected to annual and biennial burning. After 17 years of burning, Andropogon standing crop has increased averaging 364 g/m2 compared to 252 g/m2 when unburned. Baptisia tinctoria, a fire increaser and nitrogen fixer, increased in density 2- and 3.5-fold with annual and biennial burning, respectively. Woody growth was stem-killed, but resurged following each burn. Clonal species such as Gaylussacia baccata and Comptonia peregrina increased 3- and 4-fold, respectively, after more than a decade of burning. Where nonclonal woody species were present in burn plots, there was little change in woody cover; unburned plots have become dominated by woody growth. A multifactor, qualitative working model involving increases in light, soil moisture and temperature, mineralization, nitrogen-fixing species and ash is proposed to explain why Andropogon standing crop increases with burning. The use of fire favors perpetuation of a native eastern prairie grassland somewhat similar to that which previously existed in the Hempstead Plains of Long Island, New York. The use of prescribed burning has considerable potential in wildlife management and ecosystem restoration and in maintaining graminoid-dominated landscapes within this oak forest region.

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