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23 April 2020 EFFECTS OF DROUGHT AND FIRE ON NATIVE STIPA PULCHRA (POACEAE) RECOVERY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GRASSLANDS
Friederike Schellenberg, Irina C. Irvine, Martha S. Witter, Anders Taeroe Nielsen, Karsten Raulund-Rasmussen
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Abstract

Mediterranean-type climate California experiences both frequent wildfires and periodic drought. Climate change models predict increased severity of drought, and wildfire size and frequency, leading to concern about the ability of some plant species to recover to pre-fire conditions when wildfires and drought coincide. During exceptional drought, drought-adapted native vegetation, such as perennial native grassland, can experience substantial die-off. Here we use three post-fire case studies in southern California to assess the combined effects of fire and drought on the resilience of a native perennial bunchgrass, Stipa pulchra Hitchc. (Poaceae). We hypothesized that resilience to fire, assessed as post-fire survival, resprouting and fecundity (i.e., number of flowering plants and inflorescences), would decrease if the fire occurred during a drought. Unburned (control) sites had about double the survival and resprouting, and about three times the fecundity compared to moderate-severity burn sites. Resprouting and fecundity in the low-severity burn sites was about twice that of moderate-severity burn sites, and survival was five times higher. Responses to two springtime fires that occurred during drought were similar (average mortality 37%), in contrast to a fall fire with no drought (6%). We cannot separate the relative contribution of drought effects from those of the time of year (spring vs. fall), burn severity, and other site factors. However, moderate-severity burns, in combination with drought, decreased survival, resprouting, and fecundity of S. pulchra.

Friederike Schellenberg, Irina C. Irvine, Martha S. Witter, Anders Taeroe Nielsen, and Karsten Raulund-Rasmussen "EFFECTS OF DROUGHT AND FIRE ON NATIVE STIPA PULCHRA (POACEAE) RECOVERY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GRASSLANDS," Madroño 67(1), 9-18, (23 April 2020). https://doi.org/10.3120/0024-9637-67.1.9
Published: 23 April 2020
JOURNAL ARTICLE
10 PAGES


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KEYWORDS
California grassland
climate change
drought
fire
purple needlegrass
Stipa pulchra
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