At first, Templeton tried local restoration. People were hired to cut the red cedar and burn the glades.
"It didn't take long to get the glades back into shape, at least from a botanical point of view," he says. "Most of the plants adapted to glades put their biomass below the ground because historically the glades burned frequently and anything above the surface was destroyed. The big root systems can survive for decades and once we opened the glade to the sun again, the plant life came back remarkably fast."
Having restored the glades, Templeton wanted to restore the lizards. He reintroduced lizards to three glades on Stegall Mountain in the Peck Ranch in 1984, 1987 and 1989.
By 1993, however, it was clear that something was wrong. All three populations still existed but the lizards were not recolonizing other glades and no dispersal was taking place between the different populations.
As a population biologist, he knew that these small (often 10 or fewer), isolated lizard populations were not stable and would eventually hit a bump and crash again.
A fire fight The problem, Templeton suspected, was that the lizards were trapped on the glades by the dense understory of the woodlands surrounding them, which had not been touched by fire for a long time.
In 1992, a Biodiversity Task Force, of which Templeton was a member, recommended landscape-level burning.
"We'd been burning prairies and glades for a long time, and everybody liked that," Templeton says, "but what we were saying was we're going to burn an entire landscape, including glades and prairies but also woodland and fens. Everything. Because that's the w
|Contact: Diana Lutz|
Washington University in St. Louis