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High post-fire mortality of resprouting woody plants in Tasmanian Mediterranean-type vegetation

Nicholson, A, Prior, LD ORCID: 0000-0002-5511-2320, Perry, GLW and Bowman, DMJS ORCID: 0000-0003-2215-7685 2017 , 'High post-fire mortality of resprouting woody plants in Tasmanian Mediterranean-type vegetation' , International Journal of Wildland Fire, vol. 26, no. 6 , pp. 532-537 , doi: 10.1071/WF16211.

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Plant regeneration strategies are commonly dichotomised as 'resprouter' v. 'non-resprouter', but this fails to recognise that the extent and type of resprouting following fire disturbance vary within species. Here, we report a case of widespread mortality of resprouters following a fire that burnt 98% of an 80-km2 island in Bass Strait, Australia. A field survey, which assessed woody vegetation in 197 plots across the island, showed fire severity ranged from low to high, with crown defoliation occurring across 85% of the island. In total, 1826 of the 1831 woody stems in the burnt plots were top-killed. Only 7.5% resprouted, despite 89% of the stems belonging to species that have the capacity to resprout. Even in species with at least 5% resprouting, only 22% of top-killed stems resprouted. Resprouting rates were maximal (30%) at intermediate fire severity, and only 5 and 8% at the lowest and highest severity classes respectively. Our findings demonstrate the need to understand factors influencing resprouting, and to incorporate these when modelling vegetation recovery after wildfire.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Nicholson, A and Prior, LD and Perry, GLW and Bowman, DMJS
Keywords: Australia, Clarke Island, fire severity, interval squeeze, persistence niche
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Wildland Fire
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
ISSN: 1049-8001
DOI / ID Number: 10.1071/WF16211
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 IAWF

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