A long-unburned stand of sand pine (Pinus clausa) was burned with a low intensity winter burn. The results indicate that this burning regime did not restore the populations of endemic herbaceous species nor did it restore a sand pine canopy. In fact, the community shifted toward a xeric hammock, characterized by the persistence of woody understory species. This study demonstrates the necessity of monitoring the consequences of the reintroduction of fire to old stands of sand pine and of recognizing variation in vegetative responses to different fire regimes.
Discussed are two ecologically similar palmettos, saw (Serenoa repens) and scrub (Sabal etonia), which co-occur on the Florida peninsula’s central ridge. Sharing many characteristics of growth form, reproductive strategies, responses to fire, and habitat occurrence, their coexistence suggests differences in micro- habitat distributions and details of life histories.
The responses of native plant species to prescribed and natural burns were recorded for scrub, sandhill, scrubby flatwoods, flatwoods, swales, and seasonal pond communities. These frequently burned associations recover via sprouting in contrast to species in the sand pine scrub that are killed and recover via seedling.
A brief condensation of the 1984 paper emphasizing that fire is a normal environmental feature in many Florida ecosystems.
Community response to fire of five vegetation types (sandhill, sand pine scrub, scrubby flatwoods, flatwoods, swales) showed that recovery occurred in less than 2 years for poorly drained sites and between 1-4 years for more xeric sites. Species composition following fire did not change from preborn conditions.
The severe and prolonged drought of 2000-2001 that affected Florida provided an opportunity to examine the impacts of drought on the survivorship and growth of these two palmettos. On average, all populations of adult palmettos and the majority of individuals lost mass during the drought. However, the survivorship of adult palmettos was little affected by drought or a combination of drought and wildfires.
Both Serenoa repens and Sabal etonia seedlings show extraordinary persistence and tolerance but at a cost of exceptionally slow growth rates. These data suggest that the transition from seedlings to reproductive plants in nutrient poor uplands takes multiple decades and restoration of palmettos as foundation species in disturbed sites will require effort.
Percentage of bearing individuals and mean number of acorns per bearing individual increased with increasing ramet size for all species across all vegetation types. This study suggests that long-unburned stands will maintain relatively constant levels of acorn production as a consequence of ramet replacement within the clones of oaks to create a variable distribution of size classes.
Long-term patterns of acorn crop sizes for five species of shrubby oaks in three xeric upland vegetative associations (i.e., sandhill sand pine scrub and scrubby flatwoods) of south-central peninsular Florida were studied for evidence of fruiting cycles and in relation to winter temperature and precipitation.
Post-recovery acorn production (percentage of bearing ramets (stems) and number of acorns per bearing stem) for four species of oaks was studied in southern sandhill vegetation in south-central Florida. Rapid post-fire recovery of acorn production in xeric fire-prone habitats is presumably the result of selection to increase the probability of recovery following intense fires that result in high oak mortality.