Absence of fire on some FWC lands has resulted in so much vegetation overgrowth that using prescribed fire is not safe or practical. To restore and maintain pyrogenic ecosystems, Upland Habitat scientists study mechanical treatments on scrub communities.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages several parcels of scrub throughout the state. Fire prevention in some of these areas has resulted in so much vegetation overgrowth that introducing a prescribed fire is not safe or practical. As a result, mowing, chopping, and harvesting are used to mimic the natural disturbance caused by fire. These mechanical treatments are necessary to maintain the open habitat preferred by most scrub flora and fauna. The FWC has begun a study to compare the effects of these mechanical treatments with and without fire on the vegetation of scrub communities. Study areas include the inland Wildlife and Environmental Management Area (WEA) of Lake Wales Ridge, as well as the coastal scrub communities within the Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) of Guana River and Chassahowitzka. Treatments include mow-only, chop-only (roller chop), mow and burn, chop and burn, harvest, and harvest and burn. To compare these treatments, 1-meter square, 4-meter square, and 100-meter square sampling areas are used to sample the herbs, shrubs, and trees, respectively.
Reference: Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida 2010 Edition (PDF 19 MB)
Map of the Chassahowitzka WMA Scrub project site
Map of the Guana River WMA Scrub project site
Map of the Lake Wales Ridge WEA Scrub project site
Photo taken between burn and no-burn treatment plots at Lake Wales Ridge WEA
Plot number six, two years after a harvest treatment at Chassahowitzka WMA
Plot number six three years after a harvest treatment at Chassahowitzka WMA
Plot number six five years after a harvest treatment at Chassahowitzka WMA