Heatwave implications for the future of longleaf pine savanna understory restoration

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Morgan D. T. Frost (Creator)
Curtis E. Green, Lecturer (Creator)
Sally E. Koerner, Assistant Professor (Creator)
Alyssa L. Young (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: The longleaf pine (LLP) savanna ecosystem once covered ~ 92 million acres of the Southeast USA,but due to anthropogenic activities such as logging and fire suppression, only 3% of its oncewidespread historic range remains. While many restoration efforts are underway to conserve thisbiodiverse ecosystem, restoration must be done in the context of climate change. In the last fewdecades, heatwaves have increased in frequency and intensity across the Southeastern USA withfurther increases predicted. To expand our understanding of LLP savanna restoration in light ofthese changes, we ran a series of three simulated heatwave greenhouse experiments through aCourse-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) incorporating ~ 150 undergraduateresearchers per experiment. We measured plant growth metrics for four understory grassescommonly used in LLP savanna restoration efforts. We found that while most grass plugindividuals survived heatwave conditions, aboveground production was reduced due to heatwaves.This productivity decrease could result in less biomass available for the essential vegetation fire feedback loop, where fire increases grass biomass, and in turn, more grass provides more fuel for fire. These results imply that land managers can proactively compensate for biomass loss due toheatwaves by planting more grass plugs during initial restoration. © 2021, The Author(s), underexclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Additional Information

Plant Ecology: An International Journal
Language: English
Date: 2021
bunchgrass, climate extreme, fuel load, grass plug, ground layer, productivity

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