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Effects of Competition and Disturbance on the Resprouting Performance of the Mediterranean Shrub Erica multiflora L. (Ericaceae)

Montserrat Vila and Jaume Terradas
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 82, No. 10 (Oct., 1995), pp. 1241-1248
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2446246
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Effects of Competition and Disturbance on the Resprouting Performance of the Mediterranean Shrub Erica multiflora L. (Ericaceae)
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Abstract

Two field experiments were designed to evaluate the importance of competition, fire, repeated disturbance, and their interactions on the vegetative and reproductive performance of the Mediterranean shrub Erica multiflora over a 2.5-yr period. In a burn experiment, fire was applied to the ground-level stumps of previously clipped 13-yr-old plants with a propane torch and competition was diminished by removal of neighboring plants. Fire resulted in a reduction of sprout vigor and biomass of flowers; mature neighbors also reduced E. multiflora sprout vigor and flowering. The interaction between fire and competition was nonsignificant. In a stand burned by a wildfire we studied the effects of regenerating neighbors on target plants by removing all neighbors or only Quercus coccifera, the most dominant species in the burned stand. In this stand we also simulated herbivory by repeatedly clipping the sprouts of E. multiflora. Regenerating neighbors did not affect target plant sprout vigor after the wildfire, but did cause a decrease in the biomass of flowers per plant. Survival decreased after repeated clipping but was not affected by neighborhood treatment. The results suggest that the importance of competition on resprouting vigor was temporally variable. Variables related to plant size rather than species determined competitive superiority: resprouting neighbors did not affect resprouting performance of target plants, but mature neighbors did. In nature, fire may directly reduce vegetative and reproductive biomass by the heating effect. But it may have an indirect positive effect on biomass, by reducing competition among plants. Frequent disturbances that removed aboveground biomass of E. multiflora had a detrimental effect on target plant survival independent of neighborhood effect.

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