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Resprouting and seeding hypotheses: A test of the gap-dependent model using resprouting and obligate seeding subspecies of Arctostaphylos

January 18, 2016

Ecological factors favoring either postfire resprouting or postfire obligate seeding in plants have received considerable attention recently. Three ecological models have been proposed to explain patterns of these two life history types. In this study, we test these three models using data from California chaparral. We take an innovative approach to testing these models by not testing community or landscape patterns, but instead, investigating vegetation structure characteristic of four pairs of resprouting and (non-resprouting) obligate seeding subspecies of Arctostaphylos (Ericaceae), a dominant and diverse shrub genus in California chaparral. Data were analyzed for percentage bare ground, elevation, annual precipitation, number of fires, and time between fires and were compared independently for each subspecies pair. Results were consistently supportive of the gap-dependent model suggesting that obligate seeders are favored when post-disturbance gaps are large. Results were inconclusive or contrary to expectations for both of the other two models.