In order to understand better the ecophysiological differences among competing species that might influence competitive interactions after, or in the absence of, fire, we examined the response to fire of four sympatric woody species found in intermediatesized gaps in a 30-yr-old mixed-oak forest in central Wisconsin. Selected blocks in the forest were burned in April 1987 by a low-intensity controlled surface fire. The fire had significant effects during the following growing season on community structure, foliar nutrient concentrations, and photosynthesis. Acer rubrum seedling density declined by 70%
following the fire, while percent cover increased several-fold in Rubus allegheniensis. In general, leaf concentrations of N, P, and K were increased by the fire in all species, although the relative enhancement decreased as the growing season progressed. Daily maximum photosynthetic rates were 30-50% higher in burned than unburned sites for Prunus serotina,
Quercus ellipsoidalis, and R. allegheniensis, but did not differ between treatments for A. rubrum. Mean sunlit photosynthetic rates and leaf conductances were stimulated by the burn for all species, with the greatest enhancement in photosynthesis measured in Q. ellipsoidalis. Leaf gas exchange in R. allegheniensis was most sensitive to declining leaf
water potential and elevated vapor pressure gradient, with Q. ellipsoidalis the least sensitive. Fire had no discernable effect on water status of these plants during a year of relatively high rainfall. In comparison with other species, A. rubrum seedlings responded negatively after fire-both in terms of survival/reproduction (decline in the number of individuals)
and relative leaf physiological performance. Fire enhanced the abundance of R. allegheniensis and the potential photosynthetic performance of R. allegheniensis, P. serotina, and particularly Q. ellipsoidalis. We conclude that post-fire stimulation of net photosynthesis and conductance was largely the result of enhanced leaf N concentrations in these species.
Reich, P. B., Abrams, M. D., Ellsworth, D. S., Kruger, E. L., & Tabone, T. J.. (1990). Fire Affects Ecophysiology and Community Dynamics of Central Wisconsin Oak Forest Regeneration. Ecology, 71(6), 2179–2190. http://doi.org/10.2307/1938631
Reich, Peter B.; Abrams, Marc D.; Ellsworth, David S.; Kruger, Eric L.; Tabone, Tom J.
Fire Affects Ecophysiology and Community Dynamics of Central Wisconsin Oak Forest Regeneration.
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