Changes in woody plant structure in fire-disturbed caldén forest of the Parque Luro Reserve, Argentina
SARASOLA, J.H., L.A. BRAGAGNOLO & R.A. SOSA. 2005. Changes in woody plant structure in fire-disturbed caldén forest of the Parque Luro Reserve, Argentina. Natural Areas Journal 25 (4): 374-380.
Abstract: We analyzed differences in vertical plant structure and species composition between three sites with different disturbance levels in caldén (Prosopis caldenia) forest in the Parque Luro Reserve, Argentina. One of the sites corresponded to a forest affected by a natural fire 15 years before the study. The remaining two sites, an open forest and a closed forest, were areas where wildfires have never been reported. Woody plant diversity, richness, and shrub density were significantly lower in the open forest than in the closed and burned forest, with the closed and burned forests having similar plant diversity and richness. The burned area also showed the highest percentage of foliage cover in the shrub strata (0.75-3 m height) even when the shrub/sapling density was similar to that of the closed forest. This suggests that fires in caldén forest play an important role in the physiognomy of shrub species. There was little evidence in our study for the establishment of new species as a consequence of wildfires and only one species occurred exclusively in the burned area of the Reserve.
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