Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Post-fire species recruitment in a semiarid perennial steppe on the Loess Plateau

Ling-Ping Zhao A B , Gao-Lin Wu A C and Zhi-Hua Shi A C D
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China.

B Animal Science and Technology School, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang, Henan 471003, China.

C Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Science & Ministry of Water Resource, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China.

D Corresponding author. Email: shizhihua70@gmail.com

Australian Journal of Botany 61(1) 29-35 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT12186
Submitted: 28 April 2012  Accepted: 12 November 2012   Published: 24 January 2013

Abstract

Offspring recruitment is an important part of population dynamics, as well as for plant-community structure and succession. One generality regarding grasses and fire is that clonal grasses tolerate fire extremely well and in most cases reach their maximum production in the immediate post-fire years. One qualification to this statement is that post-fire offspring, recruitment mode is very important. However, respective data are scare in the semiarid perennial steppe. We studied the relative importance of asexual v. sexual recruitment in the post-fire recovery in semiarid steppe on the Loess Plateau of north-western China. We observed differences in regeneration strategy after different times post-fire (burnt in 2008, burnt in 1999, and no fire history for at least 30 years). Results showed that fire significantly increased offspring recruitment numbers, but not species richness. The increase of asexual recruitment after a fire made a major contribution to the increase of total offspring number. Meanwhile, there was no significant difference for the ratio of asexual to sexual recruitment among sites with different times since fire. The asexual to sexual recruitment ratio was significantly different for different species, with some species not recruiting offspring via sexual recruitment. Our results indicated that seedling recruitment contributed little to post-fire recovery of the perennial-steppe community. Lack of sexual recruitment is not related to fire management but to inherent traits of the occurring plants.

Additional keywords: asexual, offspring recruitment, sexual.


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