Ecological role of fire in gallery forests in eastern Kansas

TitleEcological role of fire in gallery forests in eastern Kansas
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1986
AuthorsAbrams, MD
EditorKoonce, A
Book TitleSymposium on Prescribed Burning in the Midwest
Pagination73 -80
PublisherUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
CityStevens Point, WI
Accession NumberKNZ00108
Keywordsfire, forest

The historical role of fire was studies in the gallery forests on Konza Prairie in eastern Kansas. Quercus macrocarpa and Celtis occidentalis dominated mesic and/or intermediate sites, whereas Q. muehlenbergii dominated the more xeric sites. An evaluation of fire history using oak species suggest a mean fire interval of 11-20 years or less since the mid-1800s. Nonetheless, a dramatic expansion of the gallery forests has occurred from 1859-1978. It also appears that Q. macrocarpa is being replaced by C. occidentalis on the mesic sites and that Q. muehlenbergii is being replaced by Cercis canadensis on the more xeric sites. Prescribed burning in a Q. macrocarpa dominated stand resulted in an increase in Ulmus spp. sprouts and a reduction in samplings from 1200 per ha to 0 and in shrub cover from 60% to 9%. These studies suggest that fire has been an historical factor affecting the distribution, composition and successful dynamics of gallery forests in eastern Kansas