In September 2014, Everglades National Park fire and exotic plant management personnel worked with Florida International University biologist Dr. Jennifer Richards and her staff to conduct an experiment on Lygodium microphyllum, an exotic, invasive plant. Lygodium can cause landscape-level ecological changes in the park and threatens to outcompete native plants. To better manage Lygodium in the park, fire staff provided support while burning “test” plants during a recent research study.
Florida International University staff set up a “burn box” of potted, nonreproductive stage Lygodium plants. The plants were outfitted with thermocouples in the soil to measure the heat at the roots of the plants. Metal tags were painted with heat-sensitive paints and buried about 1-2 centimeters below the soil to measure heat intensity from the surface level. An infrared camera recorded heat intensity and temperature as the plants burned during the study. Additional cameras were set up to record fire behavior during the study. Everglades fire staff lit the vegetation and monitored weather conditions as dried sawgrass litter and Lygodium vines burned. A fan supplied wind, aiding in the spread of fire in the burn box.