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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 12(2)

Effects of fire season and intensity on Prosopis glandulosa Torr. var. glandulosa

Paul B. Drewa

International Journal of Wildland Fire 12(2) 147 - 157
Published: 27 June 2003


In pyrogenic ecosystems, responses of resprouting woody vegetation may depend more on fire season than on intensity. I explored this hypothesis by examining fire season and intensity effects on response of Prosopis glandulosa, a resprouting shrub in Chihuahuan desert grasslands of the south-western United States. Clipping as well as low and high intensity fires (natural and added fuels, respectively) were applied during the 1999 growing season and the 2000 dormant season. Both fire season and intensity affected shrub responses. Numbers of resprouts increased 16%, and heights increased 8% after dormant season versus growing season treatments of fire and clipping combined. Height and resprout number decreased with increased fire intensity. Fire season and intensity effects on canopy area and stem growth were generally not detected. My results do not support the above hypothesis. Instead, fire season and intensity influence shrub responses in different ways via different mechanisms. Prosopis glandulosa has the potential to respond more after dormant season than growing season fires, perhaps as determined by carbohydrate availability in underground organs at the time of fire. However, realization of this potential is contingent on fire intensity as influenced primarily by fuel amount. In turn, fire intensity will determine the amount and duration of heat penetration into soils and thus the amount of damage to growing points of under-ground organs.

Keywords: Chihuahuan desert grasslands; fire severity; fire temperature; honey mesquite; New Mexico; shrubs; south-western United States.

Full text doi:10.1071/WF02021

© IAWF 2003

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