Florida's Fire Dependent Plants and Animals

Pitcher Plants - The rejuvenating effects of a successful prescribed fire allow pitcher plants to flourish in newly opened areas. © Jeff Ripple

Florida burrowing owl - Periodic fire is important to maintain the sandy soils the Florida burrowing owl needs for survival. © TNC

Wiregrass - Following fire, wiregrass quickly initiates new growth. The leaves grow rapidly and can replenish themselves within a few months. Fire can also trigger a flowering response in wiregrass during certain seasons, necessary to provide seed. © TNC

Gopher tortoise - Without fire, vegetation grows very tall and thick – blocking sunlight from reaching the ground. Plants that are the primary food source for gopher tortoises cannot live in the shade. © Eric Blackmore

Indigo snake - Like many other animals, indigo snakes use gopher tortoise burrows as habitat and to escape fires. Fire exclusion is a major cause of habitat degradation for gopher tortoise and therefore indigo snakes. © Dirk Stevenson

Longleaf pine - low-intensity fires – set by lightning and fueled by grass and pine straw – once kept hardwood trees at bay and allowed longleaf pines to thrive in the open. Fire can also stimulate growth in longleaf pine seedlings. Older longleaf pines show no growth loss from controlled burns when there is little damage to the needles. © Mark Conlin

Florida Panther - Prescribed fire is used regularly in Florida panther habitat for fuel reductions to provide a healthy ecosystem for deer and other species that are prey for the Florida panther. © Connie Bransilver

Florida scrub-jay - Fire is essential for Florida scrub-jay habitat maintenance. To scientists they are a flagship species. This means if the scrub-jays are not doing well, something is not right with the ancient scrub habitat they prefer. © Kevin Barry

Red-cockaded woodpecker - This longleaf pine-loving species evolved under a regime of frequent fires. Fire helps to maintain the open woodlands preferred by red-cockaded woodpeckers for both foraging and nesting. © Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission


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