A little fire did a lot of good for microbes in FIU’s Nature Preserve

  • Pine rocklands outside Everglades National Park are vanishing.
  • FIU is home to a pine rockland in the middle of its Nature Preserve.
  • Pine rocklands depend on fire for a variety of services.
  • In 2016 authorities carreid out the first prescribed burn on campus.
  • After 10 weeks, microbes and fungi helpful for plants were more prominent.

For FIU’s patch of pine rockland, its first-ever controlled burn did a world of good.

Natural pine rocklands have evolved to benefit from naturally occurring fires that periodically burned away invasive plants and excess leaves on the ground, readied seeds for germination and improved soil composition.

Since the founding of the university, the rockland sitting right in the middle of the 11-acre Nature Preserve on the west side of the Modesto A. Maidique campus had been managed only by hand. Volunteers came in and yanked out plants that didn’t belong. But that never truly mirrored the conditions of a natural pine rockland.

In 2016 FIU’s Office of University Sustainability partnered with the Florida Forest Service to conduct a small prescribed burn in the preserve while students were away on Spring Break. While out of control wildfires like the ones currently affecting western states are devastating, prescribed burns are controlled and can be good for pine rocklands.

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