Event Title

Post-Fire Carbon Assimilation Rates and Specific Leaf Area of Species with Different Post-Fire Recovery Strategies

Poster Number

032

Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Schafer, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Biology

Location

Richardson Ballroom – DiGiorgio Campus Center

Start Date

12-4-2019 2:15 PM

End Date

April 2019

Description

Plant species can recover after fire by seed recruitment or resprouting. Top-killed species resprout by redistributing carbon from below-ground reserves to above-ground shoots. We investigated carbon assimilation rates of species with different post-fire recovery strategies and hypothesized that species that recover only by resprouting, and depend solely on their below-ground carbon reserves to persist after fire, would have higher carbon assimilation rates than species that recover by resprouting and/or seed germination. We measured photosynthesis of post-fire resprouts of 11 species in scrubby flatwoods shrublands in Florida. We measured carbon assimilation rates and specific leaf area (SLA) of five to eight individuals of each species in sites approximately 11 months post-fire. We also measured total leaf area of six species (four shrubs and two palmettos). We found a significant difference in carbon assimilation rates among species when measured on a leaf area basis, but differences were not related to post-fire recovery strategy, and carbon assimilation rates were not higher in resprouters. When scaled to total plant leaf area, carbon assimilation rates did not differ between palmetto species, but did differ among shrub species due to differences in leaf area. SLA differed among species, and mean photosynthetic rates were positively correlated with mean SLA across species. Our results suggest that species that depend solely on below-ground carbon to support post-fire recovery do not require greater post-fire carbon assimilation to persist in fire-prone habitats than species that can recover via seed germination and/or that photosynthetic rates may be constrained by leaf-level traits.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Poster Session, Winthrop University, October 2018; South Carolina Academy of Science Annual Meeting, Florence, South Carolina, March 2019

Grant Support?

Supported by a grant from the Winthrop University Research Council

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Apr 12th, 2:15 PM Apr 12th, 4:15 PM

Post-Fire Carbon Assimilation Rates and Specific Leaf Area of Species with Different Post-Fire Recovery Strategies

Richardson Ballroom – DiGiorgio Campus Center

Plant species can recover after fire by seed recruitment or resprouting. Top-killed species resprout by redistributing carbon from below-ground reserves to above-ground shoots. We investigated carbon assimilation rates of species with different post-fire recovery strategies and hypothesized that species that recover only by resprouting, and depend solely on their below-ground carbon reserves to persist after fire, would have higher carbon assimilation rates than species that recover by resprouting and/or seed germination. We measured photosynthesis of post-fire resprouts of 11 species in scrubby flatwoods shrublands in Florida. We measured carbon assimilation rates and specific leaf area (SLA) of five to eight individuals of each species in sites approximately 11 months post-fire. We also measured total leaf area of six species (four shrubs and two palmettos). We found a significant difference in carbon assimilation rates among species when measured on a leaf area basis, but differences were not related to post-fire recovery strategy, and carbon assimilation rates were not higher in resprouters. When scaled to total plant leaf area, carbon assimilation rates did not differ between palmetto species, but did differ among shrub species due to differences in leaf area. SLA differed among species, and mean photosynthetic rates were positively correlated with mean SLA across species. Our results suggest that species that depend solely on below-ground carbon to support post-fire recovery do not require greater post-fire carbon assimilation to persist in fire-prone habitats than species that can recover via seed germination and/or that photosynthetic rates may be constrained by leaf-level traits.