Monitoring post-fire recovery in Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) ecosystems in Mill Hill and Seymour Hill in the Capital Region District.




Rodriguez, Jennifer

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Garry oak meadow (Quercus garryana) ecosystems result from Coast Salish cultivation, including low-intensity fires that were set frequently before colonization. In addition to disrupting traditional stewardship practices, European settlement introduced widespread exotic species that altered ecosystem dynamics. This project was designed to understand ecosystem recovery after human-ignited fires in this altered landscape. I conducted repeat photography at ten plots in Mill Hill Regional Park, five inside an area accidentally burned in 2020 and five outside. I also established and photographed eight monitoring plots at Seymour Hill, with half in and half out of another accidental fire area that occurred in 2022. I then analyzed the photos to assess vegetation cover, investigating the patterns of native and exotic species recovery post-fire. The analysis revealed that burned plots have a higher cover of exotic species, ranging between 45% and 75%. In comparison, native species cover was below 22% on burned plots. Exotic grasses were abundant in burned plots, while native species such as Camas (Camassia spp.) were reduced. These findings suggest that incidental fires in Garry oak ecosystems can accelerate the invasion of exotic species. Thus, active restoration actions may need to occur after a fire in these systems.



Garry oak ecosystems, fire ecology, ecological restoration, post-fire monitoring, qualitative photo analysis, photopoint monitoring