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Fire in North American Wetland Ecosystems and Fire-Wildlife Relations: An Annotated Bibliography


This Biological Report fills two important voids in the libraries of many wildlife biologists-an annotated bibliography on fire in North American wetland ecosystems and a subject index of all fire-related literature that has appeared in Wildlife Review.

We at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center have long been concerned about the role of fire in both upland and wetland communities, as fire is an important natural force affecting the nesting and feeding habitat of breeding waterfowl.

The early studies of fire-wildlife interactions conducted at this Center in the 1960's centered on attempts to restore native plant communities and reduce the abundance of Kentucky bluegrass and other introduced grasses in mesic prairies in the hopes that waterfowl nest densities and successs could be increased. Later and ongoing studies have emphasized the frequency and seasonality of prescribed burns needed to maintain these communities.

In the last decade or so, biologists from the Center and other wildlife agencies have become greatly concerned about the adverse effects of cattail and woody plant invasion in prairie wetlands. These plants have greatly reduced the attractiveness of wetlands for breeding waterfowl, while at the same time, they have increased the use of some of these wetlands as roosting sites for migrant blackbirds. Blackbirds sometimes cause serious depredation to sunflowers and certain other crops. Unfortunately, the problem of cattail invasion is especially severe on federally-owned Waterfowl Production Areas where, in most cases, both fire and grazing by livestock have been eliminated.

Clearly, these sites would benefit from more research on the effects of fire and grazing. I hope that this Biological Report will stimulate further research into fire ecology of wetlands in North America so that we may better manage our vital wildlife resources and maintain natural species diversity in these biologically rich ecosystems.

Rey C. Stendell, Director
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Jamestown, North Dakota

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