Pocosins are shrub wetlands of the southeastern coastal plain maintained by fire. Increased herbaceous plant diversity has been reported after wildfire. To test the effect of radiant heating on the seed bank of pocosin-upland ecotones, wet heat treatments were applied to Sphagnum substrate from a Virginia small depression pocosin. The seedling emergence method was used to quantify wetland seedling abundance and richness. Extant vegetation was measured at each seed bank sampling area and the seed bank and vegetation were compared with Sorenson similarity values. No significant seedling abundance, richness, or evenness effects were detected among wet heat and control groups. However, the high wet heat treatment (75 °C) significantly reduced the density of Sphagnum cuspidatum capitula more than 80% relative to the control. Mean seed bank density was 6,209 seedlings/m2 (richness = 11) and was dominated by Scirpus cyperinus (97.8%), contained many early successional species. The seed bank did not closely resemble the extant vegetation. Pocosin canopy was sparse and dominated by Pinus serotina. The shrub-sapling stratum indicated co-dominance of Acer rubrum and ericaceous species, potentially indicating a shift from a shrub bog to a wet pine-hardwood community.
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Vol. 134 • No. 1