Brazilian Journal of Biology
On-line version ISSN 1519-6984
SILVA, IA.; VALENTI, MW. and SILVA-MATOS, DM.. Fire effects on the population structure of Zanthoxylum rhoifolium Lam (Rutaceae) in a Brazilian savanna. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2009, vol.69, n.3, pp. 813-818. ISSN 1519-6984. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1519-69842009000400008.
Since cerrado fires may impede the growth of seedlings into trees, they may shape the population of woody species. In this study, we assessed the effects of a severe fire on the population structure and spatial distribution of Zanthoxylum rhoifolium, a widespread cerrado tree. We were interested to know the importance of the resprouting and sexual reproduction in regenerating the population. The study area had been for about six years protected from fire, before a severe fire at the end of the dry season in 2006. We sampled and measured all individuals of Z. rhoifolium found in 80 plots of 25 m2. We found 149 individuals before the fire and 112 after the fire, of which 77 were resprouts from burned seedlings and saplings. We did not find significant differences between the population structure before and after the fire. The spatial distribution of the population remained clumped after the fire. Thus, the Z. rhoifolium population was very resilient to a severe fire. We did not find any new seedlings. As a consequence, resprouting seems to be more important than sexual reproduction in promptly regenerating the Z. rhoifolium populations.
Keywords : cerrado; resilience; resprouting; sexual reproduction; spatial distribution.