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Species responses to fire on florida usa lake wales ridge


, : Species responses to fire on florida usa lake wales ridge. American Journal of Botany 71(1): 35-43

The responses of native plant species to prescribed and lightning-caused burns were recorded using permanent line transects and quadrats, sampled over a 5-yr period, 1977-1982. The dominant species of more frequently burned associations (southern ridge sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, flatwoods, swales and seasonal ponds) either recover from fire by sprouting or survive by resisting fire, rather than by seeding. The dominants of less frequently burned associations (sand pine and rosemary scrub) are killed by fire and recovery by seeding. Quercus myrtifolia, Q. inopina, Q. chapmanii, Q. geminata, Serenoa repens and Sabal etonia exhibited resiliency, rapidly returning to their preburn levels of dominance. Of the palmettos, Serenoa responded more vigorously than Sabal. Vegetation measures for Gaylussacia dumosa and Vaccinium myrsinites increased and then decreased dramatically after fire with 2-, and 3- to 4-yr cycles, respectively. Myrica cerifera var. pusilla, Q. minima, and Hypericum reductum were more gradual in their responses. A strong inverse relationship, mediated by both abiotic and biotic factors, was found between density and accumulated aboveground biomass in H. edisonianum. Pinus elliottii var. densa showed a high degree of resistance to fire with several abiotic and biotic variables affecting mortality. A number of species exhibited an increased incidence of flowering after fire. Late spring/summer fires stimulated a vigorous flowering response in Aristida stricta. Panicum abscissum and Andropogon spp., whereas winter fires encouraged only a vegetative response. The ridge species do not require fire in the sense of maintaining a fire subclimax. Rather, fire revitalizes species' populations, but does not initiate succession in the Clementsian sense.

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