Poster presented at the 2023 SWOSU Research and Scholarly Activity fair.
Pictured here is student Alliyah Mohamud
Prescribed burns are integral management tools that can maintain grassland ecosystems over time. During the last 150 years, fire suppression and overgrazing have favored the encroachment of woody species into native grasslands. Prescribed fire, along with grazing and browsing, are being used in a practice known as Pyric Herbivory to more cost-effectively produce grazing forage for livestock, and native grassland assemblages and stucture for wildlife communities. In our study, we used an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (a RC drone) to assess fire impact at two scales: at 30-m radii plots and at the 500-m radius of the overall burn management. Our primary hypothesis was that the two scales of sampling would produce differing results because of the unpredictability of fire behavior in any prescribed burn. In this project, the impact of the fire was not as great at the larger spatial scale, while the results were in the same direction (reduced woody and increased grass cover). Apparently, scale does play a role in fire behavior and how effective a prescribed burn ultimately is at causing juniper mortality in a grassland where it is invading.
SWOSU Research, Research fair, UAV, Burn ecology, Forestry, Land management, Natural resource management