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Home arrow The Daily Dirt arrow Wednesday What's New: Wildfires Jeopardize Native Species
Wednesday What's New: Wildfires Jeopardize Native Species Print E-mail
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Wednesday, 31 August 2016
California wildfires

Many native species require fire and burning to reproduce and thrive; however frequent fires--more than nature intended--are wreaking havoc on these native plants. The recent California wildfires are a good example of this. Instead of burning once or twice in a century, fires are occurring say, every 5 years.

A number of circumstances are causing the increase, including an increase in the number of invasive species such as cheatgrass infiltrating native ecosystems, with potentially devastating results. Top among them is the likelihood that invasive species may slip in and take the place of native plants. Invasive species are adept at colonizing disturbed areas, many within a single year, whereas native species often take longer to reestablish as long as several years.

Plants in chaparral ecosystems regenerate in two ways, from seeds and from root systems. Plants that reproduce from seeds will be affected more than those that regenerate from root systems. Jon Keeley, a U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist interviewed for the article stated that seed-sprouting plants could be instantly wiped from large swaths of the landscape and plant populations regenerating from their root systems would be thinned out.