Competitive abilities of three narrowly endemic plant species in experimental neighborhoods along a fire gradient

  • Quintana-Ascencio P
  • Menges E
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We conducted field experiments manipulating lichens, shrubs, and herbs along a time-since-fire gradient and assessing effects on three endemic herbaceous species of Florida scrub: Eryngium cuneifolium, Hypericum cumulicola, and Polygonella basiramia. Responses included seed germination, survival, biomass, and fecundity. Transplants into recently burned patches generally had higher survival, larger biomass, and greater reproductive output than transplants into long-unburned patches. Open areas and sites near oaks frequently were more favorable than sites near Florida rosemary. Ground lichens did not affect germination but increased mortality rate of seedlings. Neighboring small shrubby and herbaceous species did not affect the performance of these species. Of the three species, naturally occurring E. cuneifolium were farthest from large shrubs, and their microhabitats had the least ground lichens and shrubs. Eryngium cuneifolium and H. cumulicola are capable of forming persistent seed banks and their recruitment after fire depends mostly on these dormant seeds. Polygonella basiramia relies on seed dispersal and immediate seed germination to colonize recently burned patches. Management for these species should involve variable fire regimes to allow all three species to persist along with many other scrub endemics.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Competition
  • Disturbance
  • Eryngium cuneifolium
  • Florida scrub
  • Hypericum cumulicola
  • Lichens
  • Polygonella basiramia
  • Seed banks

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  • Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio

  • Eric S. Menges

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