What role does fire play in maintaining healthy ecosystems?
Controlled burns can improve the capacity of natural areas to absorb and filter water in places where fire has played a role in shaping that ecosystem.
Controlled burns help keep people and property safe while supporting the plants and animals that have adapted to this natural part of their ecosystems.
Students distinguish between a wildfire and a controlled burn, also known as a prescribed fire. They explore multiple controlled burn scenarios and the positive impacts of fire on ecosystems.
Wildfires often occur naturally when lightning strikes a forest and starts a fire in a forest or grassland. Humans also often accidentally set fires. In contrast, controlled burns, also known as prescribed fires, are set by land managers and conservationists to mimic some of the effects of these natural fires.
In certain ecosystems, fires are necessary for the health of plant and animal species. The quick recovery of vegetation is evidence of how fire enhances habitat for most plants and animals in Florida. Herbivores, such as the white-tailed deer, are attracted to the highly nutritious plants after a fire. Fruit production is stimulated by fire, resulting in increased availability of seeds and berries that provide food for many species of wildlife. Predator populations increase in these areas, as they are attracted to increase in prey. Both plants and animals have developed adaptations to survive in this unique ecosystem even relying on each other for protection.
As a hands on activity, students will assume the role of a fire manager to develop and justify a recommendation for a specific ecosystem and compare and contrast how organisms in different ecosystems have adapted to fire.
|Teacher's Guide PDF Companion for PowerPoint|
|PowerPoint Lesson Plan|