We quantified the combustion characteristics of bison fecal pats following three prescribed grassland fires conducted during three different seasons on an Oklahoma tallgrass prairie. We compared heat per unit area, rate of energy consumption and duration of combustion of the burning fecal pats with fireline intensity, reaction intensity and heat per unit area of the fires. Environmental conditions at the time of burning determined the intensity of the fire in the grassland fuels. However, we found no correlation between grassland fire behavior and fecal pat combustion characteristics, suggesting that grassland fuels and fecal pats respond differently to several environmental factors. The heat released per unit area of fecal pat was extreme in each fire. The results suggest the flux of heat created by combusting bison fecal pats may potentially alter patterns of soil resources. If so, this should contribute to species richness and spatial heterogeneity in tallgrass prairie in a manner similar to other small-scale disturbances.
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Vol. 141 • No. 1