• The Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave

    Mammoth Cave

    National Park Kentucky

Fire Regime

Nature and Science

A prescribed burn at Mammoth Cave National Park

All of the component ecosystems within the Mammoth Cave area karst landscape are functionally connected and must be managed holistically in order to restore appropriate biodiversity. Fire is obviously a powerful determining force in vegetation communities. Whether a given area with fire potential is prairie, savanna, or forest is governed largely by fire regime, and these vegetation types define habitats, including food supply, for a broad spectrum of wildlife. For the river and connected aquatic cave ecosystem, vegetation determines the amounts and quality of water, sediment, and organic matter that enter. For the terrestrial cave ecosystem, the types and quantities of insects, fungi and plants available to bats, woodrats, and cave crickets are largely determined by major vegetation types, several of which are fire dependent. Therefore, Mammoth Cave National Park has embarked on a program of safety minded and ecologically sound prescribed burning.

Did You Know?

Eyeless cave fish

Creatures that spend their entire lives in Mammoth Cave adapt to the dark world. Some types of cave fish, for example, do not grow eyes – supporting these extra unnecessary organs would consume precious energy in their nutrient-poor environment.