Indirect effects

Given the distinct effects of fire frequency on plant community structure and dynamics within and among burning treatments, it seems plausible that consumers that depend on the primary producers for food and habitat structure will be indirectly affected because fire alters food availability and habitat structure. Given that fire usually homogenizes grassland plant communities, one would predict that this would hold true for consumers. However, there does not appear to be tight linkages between changes in vegetation composition and structure animal populations. Indeed, work in an Oklahoma prairie shows that more grassland birds occur in areas with patchy burns than in areas that are uniformly burned or not burned. Much more work on how fire affects habitat heterogeneity and grassland consumers communities is needed.

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