Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2006


Published in GREAT PLAINS RESEARCH 16:2 pages 149-159 (Fall 2006). Copyright © 2006 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


The purpose of this paper is to provide quantitative fire history information for a geographically unique region, the Loess Hills of northwest Missouri. We sampled 33 bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa Michx.), chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii Engelm.), and black oak (Q. velutina Lam.) trees from the Brickyard Hill Conservation Area in northwest Missouri. The period of tree-ring record ranged in calendar years from 1671 to 2004 and fire-scar dates (n = 97) ranged from 1672 to 1980. Fire intervals for individual trees ranged from 1 to 87 years. The mean fire interval was 6.6 years for the pre-Euro-American settlement period (1672-1820), and 5.2 years for the entire record (1672-1980). A period of more frequent fire (mean fire interval = 1.6 for 1825 to 1850) coincided with Euro-American settlement of the area. The average percentage of trees scarred at the site was 16.8%, or about 1 in 7 trees sampled per fire. No significant relationship between fire years and drought conditions was found; however, events prior to 1820 may have been associated with wet to dry mode transitions.