When planning a prescribed fire or understanding the results of a wildfire, it is important to define the desired fire effects. Fire effects are defined as: The physical, biological, and ecological impacts of fire on the environment. We categorize effects in to groups first order and second order. First order effects are related to the burn itself (effects of combustion) while second order effects are usually seen later and relate to the stress caused by the fire interacting with the environment. Examples of some fire effects might be reduction of undesirable species, increase in species diversity, reduction in canopy cover or number of trees, and increases in cattle weight gains.
Fire effects living things differently and researchers have been working to understand fire effects. You can access this information through a website that provides summaries of fire effects by species, regions, and even ecosystems. The Fire Effects Information System is a clearinghouse of summarized easy to use fire effects information. There are links to regional summaries as well as species specific information. They cover fire effects on a wide range of flora (including a special section on invasive species), fauna, soils, and air. The species descriptions include basic biology, distributions, as well as information on how the species will respond to fire. Citations are also available resources. There is even a tutuorial to get you started! The website is easy to use and researchers work to update species summaries as often as possible.