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Microsite and herbaceous vegetation heterogeneity after burning Artemisia tridentata steppe
- Woody vegetation can create distinct subcanopy and interspace microsites, which often result in resource islands in subcanopies compared to interspaces. This heterogeneity in soil resources contributes to herbaceous vegetation heterogeneity in plant communities. However, information detailing the impact of disturbance, such as fire, that removes the woody vegetation on microsites and herbaceous vegetation heterogeneity is limited. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of burning on microsites and herbaceous vegetation in subcanopies and interspaces. Six study sites (blocks) were located at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range in shrub (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh)-bunchgrass plant communities and one half of each block was burned to remove A. tridentata. Herbaceous vegetation and microsite characteristics were measured 2 years post-fire in intact and burned subcanopies and interspaces. Burning resulted in microsite and herbaceous vegetation differences between intact and burned subcanopies and intact and burned interspaces. However, burned subcanopies and burned interspaces appeared to be relatively similar. The similarity in microsite characteristics probably explains the lack of differences in herbaceous vegetation cover and biomass production between burned subcanopies and burned interspaces (P > 0.05). However, some microsite and herbaceous vegetation characteristics differed between burned subcanopies and burned interspaces. Our results suggest that disturbances that remove woody vegetation reduced microsite and herbaceous vegetation heterogeneity within plant communities, but do not completely remove the resource island effect. This suggests soil resource heterogeneity may influence post-fire community assembly and contribute to diversity maintenance.
Davies, Kirk W. , Bates, Jonathan D. , James, Jeremy J.
steppes , fire ecology , Artemisia tridentata , burning , plant ecology , prescribed burning , plant communities , habitats , microhabitats , grasses , woody plants , canopy , Achnatherum thurberianum , community ecology , photosynthesis , soil temperature , spatial variation , soil fertility , soil nutrients , soil water content , Oregon
- Includes references
- Oecologia 2009 Mar., v. 159, no. 3
- Berlin/Heidelberg : Springer-Verlag
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
- Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.