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Short-term effects of experimental fires on a Mojave Desert seed bank

Journal of Arid Environments

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Abstract

A Mojave Desert shrub community was experimentally burned to understand changes in seed bank of desert annual plant species in response to wildfire. Seed mortality ranged from 55 to 80%, and fire caused significant losses of native and alien annual seeds. Schismus arabicus, Schismus barbatus, Bromus madritensis, Bromus tectorum, Erodium cicutarium and Plantago spp. made up >95% of the seed bank. Bromus spp. and Plantago spp. had proportionately greater mortality of seeds than did Schismus spp. and E. cicutarium. Schismus spp. can be lodged into soil cracks thus avoiding lethal temperatures. E. cicutarium has a self-drilling mechanism that places the seeds at greater depth in the soil. Greater seed mortality occurred beneath shrub canopies than interspaces for most species (Plantago, spp., Bromus spp., and E. cicutarium), but microsite had little effect on Schismus spp. Fire reduced the perennial Ambrosia dumosa densities under canopies. Fire reduced the mean number of species found in samples by about one species per plot and no species was extirpated on experimental plots. The relative abundances of common species did not change dramatically as a result of fire or microsite, however; seed densities varied by treatment and affected interpretations of species compositions.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Short-term effects of experimental fires on a Mojave Desert seed bank
Series title:
Journal of Arid Environments
Volume
74
Issue:
10
Year Published:
2010
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier
Publisher location:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s):
Western Ecological Research Center
Description:
7 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
1302
Last page:
1308
Country:
United States
Other Geospatial:
Mojave Desert