Effects of habitat and time-since-fire on recruitment, survival, and reproduction of Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea, a short-lived Florida scrub endemic herb

Jennifer L. Schafer, Lauren L. Sullivan, Carl W. Weekley, Eric S. Menges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Conservation of a threatened species requires knowledge of the factors that affect its recruitment, survival, and reproduction. We conducted a long-term study on the demography of Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea, a short-lived, gynodioecious Florida rosemary scrub endemic. Specifically, we assessed the effects of habitat (rosemary scrub vs. roadsides), time-since-fire, microhabitat, and rainfall on recruitment, survival, flowering, and seed production. In addition, in a shorter-term study, we assessed the effects of habitat, time-since-fire, and gender on flower and seed production. Overall, approximately one-third of individuals survived more than one year and individuals most often flowered twice indicating that P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is an iteroparous, short-lived perennial, which is in contrast to its disjunct conspecific, the annual P. chartacea ssp. minima. Recruitment was higher in roadsides, but seed production was higher in rosemary scrub. Within rosemary scrub, recruitment was highest at intermediate times-since-fire and in the center of large gaps, the microhabitat with the greatest amount of bare sand. Median lifespan was longest in long unburned sites, suggesting that P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is able to persist despite litter accumulation and competition from shrubs. Rainfall had a positive effect on annual survival, but did not affect seedling recruitment. Females produced more seeds than hermaphrodites, indicating that females contribute more to population persistence. Our study suggests P. chartacea ssp. chartacea populations will persist under the 15-40 year fire return interval characteristic of regularly burned Florida rosemary scrub, but may not persist in roadsides if greater recruitment does not balance shorter lifespans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Torrey Botanical Society
Volume140
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

Keywords

  • Florida rosemary scrub
  • flower production
  • roadsides
  • seed production
  • sexual dimorphism

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