Can Prescribed Fire Save the Endangered Coastal Prairie Ecosystem from the Chinese Tallow Invasion?

By: James B. Grace


The remaining fragments of the coastal prairie ecosystem and efforts to restore it are currently threatened by Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.), an invading exotic tree.  With its capacity for rapid growth and prolific reproduction, tallow is capable of converting native prairie into a near monoculture forest in only a few years.  Although tallow possesses several adaptations to fire, evidence is mounting that prescribed burning may be an effective management tool for limiting its invasion into coastal prairie.

Dr. Jim Grace is at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, a unit of the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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