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1 January 2004 The Life of a Fire-adapted Florida Goldenrod, Solidago odora var. chapmanii
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We studied the ramet dynamics of Chapman's goldenrod [Solidago odora var. chapmanii (A. Gray) Cronquist] in burned Florida scrub and sandhill by monitoring permanent quadrats for 10 y, excavating to reveal clonal structure and postfire responses and taking extensive notes on the plant's life history. Chapman's goldenrod was attacked by a wide variety of herbivores and grazing mammals. However, leaf damage from herbivores and pathogens was relatively minor. This rhizomatous perennial forb produced conspicuous flowering displays after fires. Censuses in 23 permanent quadrats set out after 12 fires revealed that the density and size of goldenrod ramets declined over the years following fire. Densities dropped most rapidly in the first few years following fire and declined more slowly in formerly grazed areas than in ungrazed Florida scrub. Season of burn did not influence subsequent ramet dynamics. Flowering was concentrated during the first 2 y after fires. Repeated burns produced a rebound in ramet densities, flowering and ramet sizes. Excavations revealed that several clones (or clone fragments) could intermingle within a square meter quadrat. Seedling recruitment was patchy and most postfire increases in ramet numbers were due to resprouting and short-distance clonal spread. In combining resprouting, clonal spread and seedling recruitment, Chapman's goldenrod differs from most other Florida upland herbs that simply resprout or depend on seedling recruitment to recover after fires. Between fires, this species persists as suppressed ramets (a persistent bud bank). The combination of postfire stimulation of growth and flowering, with persistence between fires (also found in shrubs in Florida scrub), may be adaptive in ecosystems where fire return intervals are highly variable.

ERIC S. MENGES and RICHARD B. ROOT "The Life of a Fire-adapted Florida Goldenrod, Solidago odora var. chapmanii," The American Midland Naturalist 151(1), 65-78, (1 January 2004).[0065:TLOAFF]2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 1 July 2003; Published: 1 January 2004

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