Clarifying the role of fire in the deciduous forests of eastern North America: reply to Matlack
Fire is an important disturbance in ecosystems across the eastern deciduous forests of North America (Brose et al. 2014). Matlack (2013) provided an interpretation of historical and contemporary fire in this region. Although we applaud Matlack for correcting simplistic assumptions that fire was ubiquitous and all plant communities need to burn regularly to maintain biodiversity, we believe his interpretation of the role of fire is erroneous on several counts. Most problematic is his statement “ . . . it seems prudent to limit the use of prescribed burning east of the prairie-woodland transition zone.” Adherence to this overgeneralized advice would inevitably result in losses of native diversity across the eastern deciduous forest.