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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Jianjun Huang; Ralph E. J. Boerner
Publication Date: 2008

Reintroduction of periodic dormant-season fire and overstory thinning are currently being employed for forest ecosystem management in deciduous forests of eastern North America. These manipulations usually alter the flux of light and the availability of soil nutrients to the perennial herbaceous plants that dominate the understory. We utilized Bayesian statistical methods to examine the effects of prescribed burning (B) and the combination of burning and overstory thinning (T+B) on the morphology, seed production, and early establishment of Desmodium nudiflorum (L.) DC. (Fabaceae) in mixed-oak (Quercus spp.) forests in southern Ohio. During the fourth growing season after the first fire, plants from thinned and burned (T+B) plots were 62% larger than plants from control plots (C). Both burning alone (B) and T+B treatments decreased specific leaf area (SLA). T+B also resulted in significantly decreased root mass ratio (RMR), and increased leaf mass ratio (LMR), and specific root length (SRL). During the first growing season after a second fire, both B and T+B resulted in significantly increased plant biomass, LMR, individual seed mass, and total seed production, as well as decreased SLA and plant height; in contrast, neither B nor T+B had significant impacts on leaf area ratio or seedling establishment. Prescribed fire, especially when combined with thinning, can result in increases in total biomass, seed size, and seed production, and hence enhance the fitness of this perennial herb in these mixed-oak forests.

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Citation: Boerner, Ralph E.J.; Huang, Jianjun. 2008. Shifts in morphological traits, seed production, and early establishment of Desmodium nudiflorum following prescribed fire, alone or in combination with forest canopy thinning. Botany 86(4):376-384.

Cataloging Information

  • Bayesian
  • biomass
  • Desmodium nudiflorum
  • herbs
  • mass ratio
  • nodule
  • Ohio
  • specific leaf area
  • thinning
  • vegetation
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 7030