Characterizing Information on Fire and Invasive Plants
Wildland managers need detailed information about the responses of invasive species to fire and the conditions that increase site invasibility in order to effectively manage fire without introducing or increasing populations of invasive plants. Literature reviews and syntheses of original research are important sources of this information, but the usefulness of a review is limited by the quantity, quality, and geographic coverage of information available when it is written. A study published in Fire Ecology (Volume 8, Issue 2) analyzed the information available for 61 syntheses published in the Fire Effects Information System between 2008 and 2011, covering 74 species of invasive plants in the eastern United States. Reviewers focused on the origin of information available in source documents, particularly whether or not it was based on actual observations. They found that observation-based information available on fire and eastern invasive species was sparse, typically came from a small portion of the species’ North American range, and had many other limitations. Their study led to a series of recommendations for scientists, managers, and the authors of syntheses, including important standards for these kinds of reviews in the future.
Image: Distribution of information quality available for each fire topic in 61 FEIS species reviews. Bars are divided to show the highest quality of information available per review: observation-based, experience- based, unverifiable, or no information at all. Bar divisions show the number of reviews for which each information quality category is highest.