Balancing land management and restoration goals for ecosystems and for individual species can create challenges. Here we describe the responses of two federally endangered plants to experimental restoration of fire-suppressed xeric longleaf pine/wiregrass (sandhill) habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge in south-central Florida. We compared responses to prescribed fire with (saw & burn treatment) and without (burn-only treatment) prior felling of the oak subcanopy to an untreated control. We conducted a 7-year study of the demography of two endemic plants, scrub buckwheat (Eriogonum longifolium var. gnaphalifolium) and scrub plum (Prunus geniculata). Scrub buckwheat responded positively to the burn treatments, with high survival, positive growth, and increased flowering in both treatments. Likewise, scrub plum had high survival in all treatments, although severely burned, fire-consumed plants were more likely to die. Fire benefits scrub plum by increasing flowering 2–3 years after fire. These results for these two endemic species are consistent with vegetation studies in long-unburned Lake Wales Ridge sandhills in suggesting that chainsaw felling of the subcanopy can be an effective pre-burn treatment and, when followed by fire, can be useful in “speeding up” restoration. The ultimate goal of sandhill restoration, the return of a frequent low-intensity fire regime, will benefit scrub buckwheat and scrub plum. In this case, management for ecosystem goals benefits two of its rare component species.
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