Question: What are the effects of fire season and intensity on resprouting of different root-crown bearing shrub species in second-growth Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) savannas?
Location: northern Florida and eastern Louisiana, USA.
Methods: In Florida, quadrats were burned biennially either during the dormant season or the growing season. In Louisiana, we applied intensity treatments to quadrats by manipulating ground-cover fuels, just prior to biennial growing season fires. Maximum fire temperatures were measured, and stem densities were censused before and after fires in both regions.
Results: After dormant season fires in Florida, stem densities were seven times greater than initial levels for Hypericum spp. In contrast, growing season fires reduced densities of H. brachyphyllum by 65%, but did not change densities of H. microsepalum. Only resprouting of H. microsepalum decreased with increased fire intensity. In Louisiana, fire intensity influenced Ilex vomitoria, but not Quercus spp. Following fires, stem densities of I. vomitoria were five times greater in fuel removal than fuel addition areas.
Conclusions: Past use of dormant season fires likely contributed to increased abundances of some species of root-crown bearing shrubs observed today in old-growth savannas. Reintroduction of growing season fires will be effective in maintaining or decreasing stem densities, depending on species and fuel type. Genet mortality and stem density reductions appear most likely in areas at localized scales where tree falls and needle coverage create hotspots in Pinus palustris savannas.
Nomenclature: Godfrey (1988).