Annals of Forest Science

, 74:68 | Cite as

Comparing morphology and physiology of southeastern US Pinus seedlings: implications for adaptation to surface fire regimes

  • Lauren S. Pile
  • G. Geoff Wang
  • Benjamin O. Knapp
  • Guohua Liu
  • Dapao Yu
Original Paper

Abstract

Key message

The suite of traits expressed as seedlings by coastal and mountain longleaf pine and south Florida slash pine suggest they can survive fire in the seedling stage. In contrast, loblolly pine and typical slash pine tolerate fire when mature but do not exhibit traits that allow them to survive fire when young, representing a different strategy for survival in frequently burned communities.

Context

Fire is an important driver in the distribution and abundance of southern US pine species, and seedling fire tolerance often determines individual survival under frequent fire regimes.

Aims

We investigated seedling growth, biomass allocation, needle distribution, bark thickness, and total non-structural carbohydrate (TNC) storage in taproots and related them to the expression of fire-tolerance for five species or types, including loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.), two longleaf pine (P. palustris Mill.) types representing two distinct ecological communities (coastal and mountain) and two slash pine (P. elliottii Englem.) varieties.

Methods

We analyzed the relationship of seedling growth, biomass characteristics, and total non-structural carbohydrate storage between species by using analysis of variance.

Results

Both coastal and mountain longleaf pines had thick bark, long, densely arranged needles, and a grass-stage. South Florida slash pine shared the same suite of traits but, contrary to previous reports, displayed reduced height growth rather than a grass-stage. In contrast, loblolly pine and typical slash pine had faster height growth, more branching, lower needle density, and thinner bark. Both longleaf pines and south Florida slash pine also had higher TNC storage in taproots than either loblolly or typical slash pines.

Conclusion

The relative strength of expression of these fire-adaptation traits among the five species types generally matches the fire-return intervals associated with each species’ habitat, suggesting the importance of fire regimes in determining the distribution and abundance of the studied species.

Keywords

Mountain longleaf South Florida slash pine Fire-tolerance Total non-structural carbohydrate Bark thickness 

Supplementary material

13595_2017_666_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Online Resource 1(DOCX 19 kb)
13595_2017_666_Fig5_ESM.jpg (2.4 mb)
Online Resource 2

Root collar diameter (RCD, mm) by measurement date for five pine seedling types grown over 13 months in greenhouse conditions. The repeated measures ANOVA for RCD was significant by time (F = 1762.8; p < 0.01), species type (F = 16.0; p < 0.01), and their interaction (F = 10.6; p < 0.01). There were significant differences in RCD between species types in August (F = 12.5; p < 0.01), January (F = 13.8; p < 0.01), and May (F = 22.8; p < 0.01). (JPEG 2486 kb)

13595_2017_666_Fig6_ESM.jpg (2.2 mb)
Online Resource 3

Height (cm) by measurement date for five pine seedling types grown over 13 months in greenhouse conditions. The repeated measures ANOVA for height was significant by time (F = 1691.4; p < 0.01), species type (F = 394.3; p < 0.01), and their interaction (F = 191.7; p < 0.01). There were significant differences in height between species types in August (F = 673.6; p < 0.01), January (F = 551.5; p < 0.01), and May (F = 22.8; p < 0.01). (JPEG 2272 kb)

13595_2017_666_MOESM2_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Online Resource 4(DOCX 14 kb)

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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren S. Pile
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Geoff Wang
    • 1
  • Benjamin O. Knapp
    • 3
  • Guohua Liu
    • 4
  • Dapao Yu
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Environmental ConservationClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service, Sierra National Forest—High Sierra Ranger DistrictPratherUSA
  3. 3.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.Bamboo Research InstituteNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  5. 5.Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina

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