Fire is an emerging ecological threat in fragile desert systems of North America. Fires are becoming larger, more frequent and intense as a result of the introduction of invasive grasses. It is not well understood how desert organisms and communities respond to these changes in fire.
Our research examines the ecological factors that contribute to plant invasion and the spread of fire in deserts and how it impacts desert ecosystem function and stability. Long-term studies are underway to understand how invasive grass driven fires change desert ecosystems by altering biological interactions among plants, insects pollinators, ants and rodents. The goal is to better predict post-fire recovery potential of the biological community and identify management approaches that are most likely to prevent fire or aid in post-fire recovery.