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Phyton (Buenos Aires)

On-line version ISSN 1851-5657

Abstract

PELAEZ¹, DV et al. Vegetation response to a controlled fire in the Phytogeographical Province of the Monte, Argentina. Phyton (B. Aires) [online]. 2010, vol.79, n.2, pp. 169-176. ISSN 1851-5657.

Fire is a major ecological process within most terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, understanding the vegetation response to fire is essential to its management. Our objective was to study the effect of a controlled fire, conducted at the end of summer season, on cover and density of the most common woody and herbaceous species in Phytogeographical Province of the Monte, Argentina. In general, after the control fire, the woody species mean percentage cover was significantly lower (p<0.05) in the fire treatment than in the control (no controlled fire). This effect was persistent during the study period. No significant differences (p>0.05) were detected in woody species mean density among treatments throughout the whole study. Desirable perennial grass mean percentage foliar cover, except at two sampling dates, was higher (p<0.05) in the controlled fire treatment than in the control. Contrarily, mean percentage foliar cover of intermediate perennial grasses was lower in the fire treatment than in the control, although differences were not always significant (p<0.05). No significant differences (p<0.05) in desirable perennial grass density were detected among treatments. Intermediate perennial grass density was consistently lower in the fire than in the control treatment, although differences were not always significant at p<0.05. Desirable annual grass and forb foliar covers were slightly higher in the fire than in the control treatment. Our results suggest that the reduction of woody species cover might have favored the foliar cover increase of the desirable perennial grasses. Moreover, our results suggest that a single, controlled burn would not seem to start a plant species replacement sequence, and that the plant community would persist with no variation in the density of the major woody species and the most prominent perennial grasses.

Keywords : Controlled fire; Desirable grasses; Undesirable woody species; Monte region; Argentina.

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