The effects of fire on Kuenzler's hedgehog cactus



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Texas Tech University


Echinocereus kuenzleri is a threatened and endangered species in the mountains of south-central New Mexico. E. kuenzleri grows in the pinyon-juniper grasslands between 1,500 and 2,000 m in elevation. Little is known about E. kuenzleri. Currently, land management practices to control woody species distribution, especially juniper, avoid E. kuenzleri habitat to reduce possible negative effects on the species. One of the more common management practices in this area is prescribed fire. To study the effects of prescribed fire on E. kuenzleri, 109 cacti were burned and 109 cacti were monitored as control plants. Macro- and micro-habitat characteristics were described in detail to help understand the effects of fire on E. kuenzleri. Burning was conducted in 2004 and 2005. Cacti were monitored for 1 to 2 years after treatment. Prescribed fire had no effect on the mortality of E. kuenzleri in the conditions of this study. Furthermore, prescribed fire had no effects on the frequency of flowering of cacti or on the number of flowers and fruits per cacti. These results suggest that prescribed fire would not have a detrimental effect on the population of E. kuenzleri 1 to 2 years after burning under the conditions of this study.



Echinocereus kuenzleri, Fire, Succulent, Prescribed fire