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Postfire Recovery of California Coastal Sage Scrub
Jon E. Keeley and Sterling C. Keeley
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 111, No. 1 (Jan., 1984), pp. 105-117
Published by: The University of Notre Dame
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2425548
Page Count: 13
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Postfire regeneration of the shrub and herb vegetation on eight coastal slopes of California coastal sage scrub was studied in the first two growing seasons after fire. All shrub species resprouted with the exception of the suffrutescent Lotus scoparius, though it is not known if this species was alive prior to the fire. It was estimated that 70% of the prefire shrub populations resprouted and these sprouts covered one third of the ground surface by the end of the second season. In contrast to chaparral, seedling establishment from soil-stored seed was low (∼ 102-103/ha) in the 1st postfire year. Resprouts of most major species (Artemisia californica, Encelia californica, Haplopappus squarrosus, Eriogonum cinereum) flowered and set seed in the 1st year. Seedling densities were ∼ 104-106/ha in the 2nd year. Herbs dominated the first postfire season vegetation in number of species, cover and biomass. The magnitude of the postfire herb flora was comparable to that in chaparral after fire and included many of the same species. On several slopes, "pyrophyte endemic" annuals (Lupinus succulentus, Lotus salsuginosus, Phacelia parryi) dominated the first season and were rare or absent in the 2nd year. One major distinction between these coastal sage sites and chaparral was that resprouting perennial herbs dominated some slopes in the first postfire season and most slopes in the second season in coastal sage. Seedling recruitment of perennial herbs was rare; 26 of the 28 species were present only as resprouts. Total herb cover was markedly lower in the 2nd year despite the fact that it was a wetter year. Between the 1st and 2nd years, shrub cover ∼ doubled, largely from resprouts, annual herb cover declined markedly and perennial herb cover remained relatively constant. The perennial bunchgrass Stipa lepida was an important component of the herb flora on all slopes and was the only species (herb or shrub) to exceed 1/m2 on all eight slopes.
The American Midland Naturalist © 1984 The University of Notre Dame