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Fire Ecology of South Florida Wetlands

photo of a group of palm trees in a prairie
Project Investigator: James R. Snyder

Project Personnel: Curt Schaeffer

Project Start Date: 1996 End Date: 2004


The main objective of the study is to look for long-term changes resulting from different fire regimes.

A long history of lightning- and human-caused fire in south Florida has resulted in fire-dependent ecosystems over most of the area. South Florida contains a large area of public lands subject to woodland fire, with the National Park Service (NPS) managing over 4,000 km2 of such lands in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. Fire management, both wildfire suppression and wildfire, is a major natural resource management activity throughout the area.

The main objective of the study is to establish the baseline conditions and begin the experimental treatments for a long-term study of season and frequency of burning in pinelands and associated cypress wetlands in Big Cypress National Preserve. The long-term study will document the ecological effects of a wide range of potential fire management strategies. The research will provide detailed data on vegetation responses to different burning regimes that will be considered along with wildlife, public safety, and other management concerns in refining prescribed burning programs of Interior lands in South Florida.

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