Post-fire changes in plant growth form composition in Andean paramo grassland

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
M. A. Zomer, Paul Michael Ramsay

Abstract

Questions: Fire suppression policies have been widely adopted in the paramo grasslands of the northern Andes to protect their biodiversity and ecosystem services. Paramos have been regularly burned for many years, and it is not clear how paramo vegetation will respond to significant changes in their fire regimes. This study investigates differences in plant growth form composition, light levels and soil temperatures in paramo plots representing a range of recovery times since the last fire. Location: Reserva Ecologica El Angel and La Bretana Nature Reserve, Carchi, Northern Ecuador. Methods: We assessed the frequency of ten paramo growth forms, vegetation height, soil temperature, and light intensity in fifteen fire sites with historical records of fire (<1-15 years since fire), and one recently unburned site (at least 40 years since fire). A chronosquence of sites was used to assess potential changes in plant community composition in post-fire succession of paramo. Results: The recovery of paramo vegetation after fire comprised three phases: initial recruitment with high growth form diversity, followed by reduced diversity, light and soil temperatures in dense tussock vegetation, and ultimately canopy height stratification wit...Continue Reading

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