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Resprouting by seedlings of four North American deciduous broadleaved tree species following experimental burning

  • Tara L. KeyserEmail author
Community ecology – original research


In eastern North American Quercus forests, the historic fire regime, characterized by periodic, low-intensity surface fire, facilitated the development and maintenance of mid-successional Quercus forests across multiple spatial and temporal scales. One physiological mechanism favoring Quercus over mesophytic and/or shade-tolerant deciduous broadleaved species is prolific and vigorous resprouting following topkill. Generalizations regarding interspecific differences in fire-induced resprouting are confounded by interactions between biotic and abiotic factors. The goal of this study was to quantify resprout dynamics by 2- and 3-year-old seedlings of four prominent deciduous broadleaved species (Acer rubrum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, and Q. rubra) following topkill via experimental burning, where seedling age, competition, fire intensity, and light were controlled. Resprouting was independent of fire intensity and seedling size. The resprout rate of Q. rubra (82%) was greater than that of A. rubrum (53%), L. tulipifera (56%), and Q. alba (52%). A second burn conducted a year later did little to inhibit resprouting by topkilled individuals. After both burns, L. tulipifera sprouts were significantly taller than the other species. Although absolute height of Q. rubra sprouts was greater than A. rubrum after the first burn, absolute height of Q. rubra sprouts was lower than A. rubrum following the second burn. Results suggest that broad, cross-genus generalizations may not accurately reflect interspecific differences in resprout potential, which may have implications related to the ability to regenerate and recruit Quercus under a re-introduced periodic fire regime.


Quercus Vegetative reproduction Prescribed fire Restoration 



This study was internally funded by the USDA, Forest Service, Southern Research Stations’, Research Work Unit 4157. The author graciously thanks Jacqui Adams, Kenny Frick, Brandy Benz, and Jeremey Peyton for assistance during treatment implementation and data collection. This paper was written and prepared by USA Government employees on official time and, therefore, is in the public domain and not subject to copyright in the USA.

Author contribution statement

TLK conceived, designed, and executed this study and wrote the manuscript. No other person is entitled to authorship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

442_2019_4397_MOESM1_ESM.doc (200 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 200 kb)


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research StationAshevilleUSA

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