Population viability analyses of Chamaecrista keyensis (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae), a narrowly endemic herb of the lower Florida Keys: Effects of seasonal timing of fires and the urban -wildland interface

Hong Liu, Florida International University

Abstract

This research first evaluated the effects of urban wildland interface on reproductive biology of the Big Pine Partridge Pea, Chamaecrista keyensis, an understory herb that is endemic to Big Pine Key, Florida. I found that C. keyensis was self-compatible, but depended on bees for seed set. Furthermore, individuals of C. keyensis in urban habitats suffered higher seed predation and therefore set fewer seeds than forest interior plants. ^ I then focused on the effects of fire at different times of the year, summer (wet) and winter (dry), on the population dynamics and population viability of C. keyensis. I found that C. keyensis population recovered faster after winter burns and early summer burns (May–June) than after late summer burns (July–September) due to better survival and seedling recruitment following former fires. Fire intensity had positive effects on reproduction of C. keyensis. In contrast, no significant fire intensity effects were found on survival, growth, and seedling recruitment. This indicated that better survival and seedling recruitment following winter and early summer burns (compared with late summer burns) were due to the reproductive phenology of the plant in relation to fires rather than differences in fire intensity. Deterministic population modeling showed that time since fire significantly affected the finite population growth rates (λ). Particularly, recently burned plots had the largest λ. In addition, effects of timing of fires on λ were most pronounced the year of burn, but not the subsequent years. The elasticity analyses suggested that maximizing survival is an effective way to minimize the reduction in finite population growth rate the year of burn. Early summer fires or dry-season fires may achieve this objective. Finally, stochastic simulations indicated that the C. keyensis population had lower extinction risk and population decline probability if burned in the winter than in the late summer. A fire frequency of approximately 7 years would create the lowest extinction probability for C. keyensis. A fire management regime including a wide range of burning seasons may be essential for the continued existence of C. keyensis and other endemic species of pine rockland on Big Pine Key. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Botany|Biology, Ecology

Recommended Citation

Liu, Hong, "Population viability analyses of Chamaecrista keyensis (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae), a narrowly endemic herb of the lower Florida Keys: Effects of seasonal timing of fires and the urban -wildland interface" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3110373.
https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3110373

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