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Fire Ecology, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 2

Seed Bank Changes with Time-since-Fire in Florida Rosemary Scrub
Authors: Jennifer J. Navarra, Nancy Kohfeldt, Eric S. Menges, and Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio
Pages: 17-31
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0702017

The soil seed bank plays a central role in the regeneration of obligate seeding species in fire-prone habitats. We evaluated how seed density and species composition changed with time-since-fire in the Florida, USA, rosemary scrub community. Because fire affects habitat availability and plant demographic variation, we predicted that soil seed density would be low in recently burned and long-unburned stands and high at intermediate time-since-fire. Seed bank soil samples were collected from a chronosequence of time-since-fire composited from two trials conducted in 1992-1993 and 2008-2009: two sites each of 3, 6, 10, and 24 years post-fire, and 3 long-unburned (~67 years) sites. The seedling emergence method was used to determine species composition of the seed bank. Across all time-since-fire age classes, herbaceous species dominated the seed bank, while long-lived subshrubs and shrubs were present in low densities. Seed banks from sites three years post-fire were distinct from the other sites. When species were sorted as functional groups, seed density was related with time-since-fire for subshrubs and ruderal herbs, but not for scrub herbs and graminoids. Subshrubs and ruderal herbs had highest seed densities in recently burned stands. Seed densities of Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides Michx.) (the major obligate seeding shrub in this community) were associated with time-since-fire and showed highest densities at recently burned and long-unburned sites. The seed banks of two scrub herb species, paper nailwort (Paronychia chartacea Fernald) and nodding pinweed (Lechea cernua Small), were associated with time-since-fire. They reached peaks in density in the first ten years post-fire, corresponding with similar changes in their aboveground abundances with time-since-fire. Soil seed densities of several species and functional groups were associated with time-since-fire, but timing of peak seed density varied depending on species’ life span and age of reproductive maturity.

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