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


Fire management activities have been elevated in importance in the Fish and Wildlife Service's management of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). This is reflected by the comprehensive documentation of fire management policies, objectives, standards, and guidelines found in the NRS Refuge Manual (6RM7). Unfortunately, however, the scientific use of fire to ensure the perpetuation of viable wildlife populations and plant communities is, in many respects, still in its infancy. Nowhere is this more evident than in the use of fire to manage natural and man-created wetlands.

The literature review contained in this Biological Report was begun when the first and second authors were affiliated with the Division of Refuge Management, Wildlife Resources Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC. Therein, we were in daily contact with Refuge Managers and Regional Office personnel and came to appreciate the difficulties sustained in operating large-scale habitat management programs without the benefit of ready access to pertinent literature or the ability to locate persons with specific expertise. In particular, within our responsibility for coordinating research efforts on Refuge lands, we realized that in the area of fire management, it was sometimes impossible to formulate appropriate questions for research consideration-so little was known of specific fire effects and fire benefits. Thus, an interim bibliography was prepared in 1982 and distributed to requesters of information on use of fire in management of wetlands and other waterfowl habitat. Following several revisions, response to this interim effort suggested a more thorough treatment which ultimately led to the expanded bibliography in this Biological Report. This report's first section emphasizes the effects of fire on wetlands because this subject is in need of review given current management priorities for Service lands. The document's second section provides a broader review of the effects of fire on wildlife in all habitats and will assist integration of wetland management via use of fire with management of surrounding terrestrial habitat and associated wildlife populations.

With the exception of the short bibliographies by Rutkosky (1978) and Kantrud (1986), this is the first attempt to provide a multidisciplinary review of the fire-wetlands literature, and certainly the most comprehensive compilation of fire-wildlife literature to date. Our close association with this project leads us to conclude, however, with some dismay, that a predictive science for this field is a distant goal. Nonetheless, wetland managers and others interested in the use of fire may now have access, through this report, to the major portion of the pertinent literature. It is our intent that this bibliography assist managers to plan efforts to obtain site-specific data, either through evaluation of management efforts or initiation of research, that will permit a much closer approach to the use of fire as a scientific tool for wetlands management.

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