Vegetation disturbance by fire affects plant reproductive phenology in a shrubland community in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina
- Laboratorio Ecotono, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Quintral 250, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina
- Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Campus Box 260, Boulder, CO 80309-0260, USA
Reproductive phenology is likely to vary spatially with environmental conditions that alter microclimate, in particular temperature. We hypothesized that within the same plant community type, environmental changes produced by recent burning would alter plant phenological patterns and temporal structure of the plant community. Specifically, we predicted accelerated flowering and fruiting dates in the burned, open environment compared with the unburned, intact community. We tested this hypothesis in a post-fire tall shrubland (matorral) in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. During the reproductive season, phenological stages of seven vascular plant species were monitored weekly. Temperature, humidity, soil nutrients and photosynthetically-active radiation were also recorded. At the burned site, flowering began earlier in all species and the success rate of fruiting was higher. These patterns correlated with significant environmental differences, including higher mean temperatures at the burned site.