Fire Ecology of Florida and the Southeastern Coastal Plain

Reed F. Noss

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An overview of the importance of fire to ecosystems in the Southeast, with guidance on how to best conduct controlled burns in the region
“A major contribution to ecology studies and fire science. . . . Essential.”—Choice
"A thorough, current, and strongly focused summary of fire ecology and management in the southeastern U.S., sure to foster discussion and more thoughtful application of fire to this region's diverse, pyrogenic landscapes."—Eric Menges, senior research biologist, Archbold Biological Station  
"An engaging read. Noss weaves history, his own relationship to Florida's fire-prone landscape, and current science to create a deep synthesis of what is known about fire, its interaction with plants and animals, and how land management affects their shared future."—J. Morgan Varner, research scientist, USDA Forest Service  
"Compiles and synthesizes information on the many fascinating aspects of fire ecology in Florida and the southeastern Coastal Plain."—Jean Huffman, Louisiana State University  
A biodiversity hotspot, Florida is home to many ecosystems and species that evolved in the presence of frequent fire. In this book, Reed Noss discusses the essential role of fire in generating biodiversity and offers best practices for using fire to keep the region's ecosystems healthy and resilient.  
Reviewing several lines of evidence, Noss shows that fire has been important to the southeastern Coastal Plain for tens of millions of years. He explains how the region's natural fire regimes are connected to its climate, high rate of lightning strikes, physical chemistry, and vegetation. But urbanization and active fire suppression have reduced the frequency and extent of fires. Noss suggests the practice of controlled burning can and should be improved to protect fire-dependent species and natural communities from decline and extinction.  
Noss argues that fire managers should attempt to simulate natural fire regimes when conducting controlled burns. Based on what the species of the Southeast likely experienced during their evolutionary histories, he makes recommendations about pyrodiversity, how often and in what seasons to burn, the optimal heterogeneity of burns, mechanical treatments such as cutting and roller-chopping, and the proper use of fuel breaks. In doing so, Noss is the first to apply the new discipline of evolutionary fire ecology to a specific region.   This book is a fascinating history of fire ecology in Florida, an enlightening look at why fire matters to the region, and a necessary resource for conservationists and fire managers in the state and elsewhere.  
Reed F. Noss is president of the Florida Institute for Conservation Science and former Provost's Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of several books, including Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Natural History and Conservation.
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