Alpine grazing: does it reduce blazing?

Leonard, S., Kirkpatrick, J., Marsden Smedley, J. (2010) Variation in the effects of vertebrate grazing on fire potential between grassland structural types. Journal of Applied Ecology 47, 876–883.

Aim: 
To "examine the degree to which vertebrate grazing affects fire potential (i.e. the likelihood that given a source of ignition, a fire will sustain and spread) in native grasslands in Tasmania, Australia"' (pp. 877).
Type of Study: 
Manipulative experiment
Key Results: 
In lawn grasslands, grazing markedly reduced fire potential through the removal of plant biomass and by preventing the vegetation escaping into the unpalatable and flammable tussock state. Grazing led to increased fire potential in tussock grasslands where animals selectively removed live shoots, leaving a high proportion of dead fuel (pp. 876).
Treatments: 
Paired grazed and ungrazed quadrats established at five lawn and 5 tussock grassland sites. Surveyed at intervals of intervals up to 6 months for 18–24 months.
Models: 
Frequentist (P values): paired t-tests, one-way ANOVA; generalized linear models; linear mixed effects model.
Comments: 
Clear demonstration of the low flammability of grazing lawns in Tasmania. Extensive native grazing occurs in these grasslands. Lawns do not, however, occur in the Victorian or NSW alpine and high subalpine environments, and there is no evidence that lawns result from livestock grazing.
Reviewer: 
Imogen Fraser; Dick Williams
Locations: 
Grasslands, Tasmania, Australia
Response variable : 
Fuel load, percentage dead fuel, number of potential fire days and fire potential difference index.
Replication: 
ca. 8–10 pairs of quadrats per site.
Ecosystem: 
Native grasslands (tussock and lawn).
Full Reference: 
Leonard, S., Kirkpatrick, J., Marsden Smedley, J. (2010) Variation in the effects of vertebrate grazing on fire potential between grassland structural types. Journal of Applied Ecology 47, 876–883.