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Name: Ashley
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: PA
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2011

Why don't pine trees invade and take over fire-prone grasslands?

Here is a link to an overview about fire ecology:

In general, fires remove woody plants such as pine trees and promotes the growth of herbaceous lants such as grasses.

Sincerely, Anthony R. Brach, PhD Missouri Botanical Garden c/o Harvard University Herbaria

Your question provides an important part of its own answer: in general pine trees, especially seedlings, are very vulnerable to damage by fire and if they do manage to take root will likely not survive. But it is far more complex than that. Climate, topography and other environmental factors will influence the frequency of fire and the establishment of different vegetation types. Relationship between vegetation and herbivores also plays a part, bison on the Great Plains probably played a major role in maintenance of prairie types. Some southern pines respond positively to fire. Each ecotype must be analyzed separately and there is much about these complex relationships we still don't fully understand.

J. Elliott

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