Plant Ecology

, Volume 212, Issue 4, pp 611–625 | Cite as

Short-term effects of burn season on flowering phenology of savanna plants

  • Noel B. PavlovicEmail author
  • Stacey A. Leicht-Young
  • Ralph Grundel


We examined the effect of season of burn on flowering phenology of groundlayer species, in the year following burns, in a mesic-sand Midwestern oak savanna. Burn treatments were fall, early-season, growing-season, late-season, and 1 or 5 years after a prior early-season wildfire. For these treatments, we compared the number of flowering stems and of flowers for species overall, for the 20 most prolifically flowering species, as well as for species grouped by flowering phenoperiods, and by growth form. Growing-season burn had a significant negative effect on number of flowering stems and total number of flowers. This effect occurred when either the burn occurred during the flowering season or during the season prior to the flowering phenoperiod. Tradescantia ohiensis showed expedited flowering and Phlox pilosa showed delayed flowering in response to early-season burning. Flowering of early shrubs was reduced by the previous fall and early-spring fires, while flowering of mid-season blooming shrubs was reduced by the early- and growing-season burns. Vaccinium and Gaylussacia, early-flowering shrubs, produced fewer flowers 1 year after than 5 years after an early-season burn. Arabis lyrata showed reduced flowering from the early-season burn. We also found four instances where the early-spring burn effect on flowering was more severe than the fall burn effect, suggesting that many frequent early-season burns may be deleterious to flowering and reproduction of some species. Burns occurring too frequently in the same season could negatively affect future flowering and reproduction of these plant species.


Phenoperiod Savanna forbs and grasses Indiana Dunes Fire season Resprouter shrubs 



We thank LuAnn Forste, Lisa Schelling, Gary Glowacki, Helen Streitelemeier, and Eric Garza for assistance in field data collection. We thank the resource management and fire staff of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for obtaining permission to conduct our research burns and for ably executing them. Jean Adams provided valuable statistical advice. This article is Contribution 1611 of the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.(Out side the USA) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noel B. Pavlovic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stacey A. Leicht-Young
    • 1
  • Ralph Grundel
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyPorterUSA

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