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Title: Response of native Hawaiian woody species to lava-ignited wildfires in tropical forests and shrublands

Author: Ainsworth, Alison; Kauffman, J. Boone;

Date: 2009

Source: Plant Ecology. 201(1): 197-209

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Wildfires are rare in the disturbance history of Hawaiian forests but may increase in prevalence due to invasive species and global climate change. We documented survival rates and adaptations facilitating persistence of native woody species following 2002–2003 wildfires in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Fires occurred during an El Niño drought and were ignited by lava flows. They burned across an environmental gradient occupied by two drier shrub-dominated communities and three mesic/wet Metrosideros forest communities. All the 19 native tree, shrub, and tree fern species demonstrated some capacity of postfire persistence. While greater than 95% of the dominant Metrosideros trees were top-killed, more than half survived fires via basal sprouting. Metrosideros trees with diameters >20 cm sprouted in lower percentages than smaller trees. At least 17 of 29 native woody species colonized the postfire environment via seedling establishment. Although the native biota possess adaptations facilitating persistence following wildfire, the presence of highly competitive invasive plants and ungulates will likely alter postfire succession.

Keywords: Disturbance, Dodonaea viscosa, Fire adaptations, Hawaii, Metrosideros polymorpha, Sprouting

Publication Notes:

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Ainsworth, Alison; Boone Kauffman, J. 2009. Response of native Hawaiian woody species to lava-ignited wildfires in tropical forests and shrublands. Plant Ecology. 201(1): 197-209.


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