Alpine grazing: does it reduce blazing?

Camac J.S., Williams R.J., Wahren C.H., Morris W.K., Morgan J.W. (2013) Post-fire regeneration in alpine heathland: Does fire severity matter? Austral Ecology 38, 199–207.

Aim: 
To "examine the effects of variation in fire severity on (alpine) plant diversity and vegetation composition, 5 years after the widespread (alpine) fires of 2003" (pp. 199).
Type of Study: 
Natural experiment
Key Results: 
In both heathlands, there were few differences in floristic diversity, cover of dominant species and community composition, across the strong fire severity gradient (pp. 199). In the vast majority of cases, plant community attributes (e.g. diversity, ground cover of dominant species, amount of bare ground) are unaffected by fire severity.
Treatments: 
Sites had varying fire history (burnt in 2003 or unburnt), fire severity; grazing (grazed or ungrazed at the time of the 2003 fire) and vegetation type (closed-heath and open-heath).
Response: 
The "data indicate there is no conservation imperative to limit fire severity in alpine landscapes through active fuel management in alpine vegetation (e.g. by prescribed burning or livestock grazing)" (pp. 205).
Models: 
Inference by eye using 95% confidence intervals; Akaike's information criterion used to compare alternate general linear models.
Comments: 
Clear demonstration that patterns of the natural regeneration patterns in alpine heathlands, and that regeneration was independent of fire severity.
Reviewer: 
Imogen Fraser; Dick Williams
Locations: 
Bogong High Plains, Australian Alpine National Park, Victoria, Australia
Response variable : 
The cover of all vascular plant species, total shrub cover and bare ground (Braun-Blanquet cover scale), and floristic composition.
Replication: 
80 transects; selected at random from heathland sites surved for fire severity by Williams et al. 2006.
Ecosystem: 
Alpine closed heathland and open heathland
Survey: 
Sites at least 0.25 ha in area, 1 transect per site, 80 sites.
Full Reference: 
Camac J.S., Williams R.J., Wahren C.H., Morris W.K., Morgan J.W. (2013) Post-fire regeneration in alpine heathland: Does fire severity matter? Austral Ecology 38, 199–207.