Defoliation impacts on Festuca campestris (Rydb.) plants exposed to wildfire
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CitationBogen, A. D., Bork, E. W., & Willms, W. D. (2003). Defoliation impacts on Festuca campestris (Rydb.) plants exposed to wildfire. Journal of Range Management, 56(4), 375-381.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractWildfires commonly occur in the Fescue Prairie of Alberta, but little information exists to provide a basis for making grazing recommendations after burning. A wildfire in April 1999 provided an opportunity to study the effect of season and intensity of post-burn defoliation on foothills rough fescue (F. campestris Rydb.) in southwestern Alberta. A 3 (date of defoliation) x 2 (defoliation intensity) factorial experiment with 10 replicates (plants) was established in both a burned and a non-burned grassland and analyzed as a nested design. Plants were defoliated once during active vegetative growth (17 May), inflorescence development (2 July), or dormancy (30 September), at either 5 or 15-cm clipped stubble heights in the first growing season after fire. Burning increased tiller numbers by 54% compared to non-burned plants but reduced plant ANPP by 51% in the second growing season. While a single defoliation of burned plants, particularly early in the year, had little effect on growth, delaying defoliation into July decreased tillers 1 year later. Increasing defoliation intensity had the greatest impact on non-burned plants, reducing plant height (15%) as well as tiller (21%) and plant (32%) ANPP in the second year. May defoliation reduced etiolated growth 1 year later regardless of burn treatment. A single grazing event after wildfire does not necessarily appear to detrimentally affect rough fescue; however, the low herbage available immediately after fire may not justify the increased risk to the plant with subsequent grazing.