The Lek

Volume 2:1 2013

Great Plains Fire Science Newsletter

Fire ecology in the GP
 Patches, pests, and public opinions

OK State burn crew.

Prairie chicken on a trap. Photo Lance McNew.

New Research Quantifies Relationships between Rangeland Management and Prairie-Chicken Population Dynamics
by Lance McNew

Birds that rely on grassland habitat to breed are the most imperiled bunch in North America.  Horizon-to-horizon grassland habitats are a thing of the past in most areas where it used to be common, and, as a result, grassland birds are in trouble.  It is no surprise then that the large, relatively intact tallgrass prairie of Kansas is often considered a stronghold for grassland birds, including greater prairie-chickens.  Unfortunately, spring surveys conducted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism suggest declining populations in eastern Kansas over the last 30 years.  So why is a grassland obligate and indicator species for unfragmented prairie declining in the largest remaining tallgrass prairie left in North America? Read on

Managing Horn Flies on Cattle with Patchy Fire
by: J. Derek Scasta and Dave M. Engle

Range scientists at Oklahoma State University are bringing back to life an old concept: livestock pest management with fire.  Indigenous tribes in North America, Africa and Australia are known to have used fire to manage insects including ticks and flies.  Project highlights:
  • Horned flies (Haematobia irritans L.) are exotic pests that target livestock.
  • These flies take blood meals from the animals and lay their eggs in the animal’s feces.
  • Fire can destroy the eggs in the feces creating a fly reduced zone.
  • Burning pastures in patches can help reduce pests in the areas preferred by livestock, recently burned areas.
 Read the full story

Social science and fire

Susan McCaffrey and Christine Olsen surveyed people across the country to learn how the public perceives wildfire.  Some of the things they learned were contrary to the fire communities' conventional wisdom.  This article begins a series highlighting some of the important findings from this report.   

 Question 1: What is the public’s knowledge of fire’s role in the ecosystem?   "Overall, studies provide ample evidence that members of the public recognize fire’s ecological role. Indeed, findings demonstrate that, particularly for those in high fire hazard areas, individuals often have a fairly sophisticated understanding of fire’s ecological role. Studies also suggest that even modest educational efforts can significantly raise both knowledge and (treatment) support levels."  Dr. McCaffrey emphasizes that public really wants information about fire.  They want to know that they are being given the best and most complete explanation of events that is possible.



SRM 2013 annual meeting

Upcoming Events:

Various burn schools in Kansas, Texas, and Nebraska. Click state for schedules.
January 24-25
  KS Natural Resource Conference.
January 29-31 Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Regional Fire Conference / Dubuque, IA.
January 30-February 1   MO Natural Resources Conference.
***Februrary 3-7 GP Fire information workshop @ Society for Range Management Annual meeting, Oklahoma City.
February 18-22   IAWF Fire Behavior and Fuels Management Conference / Raleigh, NC
March 9  S130/190 take the course online then attend the field day in Neola, IA. 
April 2-4  1st National Adaptation Forum / Denver, CO Information:
April 16-17          Prescribed Fire and Indiana Bats / near Robbinsville, NC
September TBD    Patch burn grazing annual meeting in SE South Dakota/SW Minnesota
October 8-10       Wildland Fire in the Appalachians / Roanoke, VA Information: more information and a call for papers will be posted @ and


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