2003 Prescribed Burn Effect on Chihuahuan Desert Grasses and Shrubs at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico: Fuel Load Study (2003-present)



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife's plan to apply a prescribed burn to a large portion of Mckenzie Flats was deemed an opportunity to study the effects of fire on the vegetation at the boundary between shrubland and grassland. This study actually was undertaken on an area that had prescribed fire applied to 8 of 16 (300 m x 300 m) plots 10 years before in 1993. This previous study had also examined the effects of fencing to exclude the indigenous prong-horn antelope. In the 2003 study the prescribed fire was applied to the northeastern half of the 16 plots while the southwestern plots were intentionally protected. Sampling prior to the prescribed burn included quantification of fuel load (ie. the standing biomass of all grasses and forbs in the area to be burned). These measurements were made using Daubenmire quadrat frames that are 5 cm x 20 cm and delineate a 0.1 square meter area. Four samples were taken adjacent to the six 3 m x 4 m quadrats in each of the eight plots that were to be burned. Quadrat frames were laid down over the vegetation and all vegetation rooted within the frame was clipped at ground level. This material was bagged, oven-dried and weighed. Following the prescribed burn, re-measurements were made in the fall of 2004 and continue to be measured every fall when vegetation has reached its annual peak biomass.

Data set ID: 


Date Range: 

Tuesday, June 10, 2003 to Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Publication Date: 

Friday, February 19, 2016