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Data from: Interspecific variation in post-disturbance growth responses of a savanna tree community and its implications for escaping the fire trap

Citation

NeSmith, Julienne E.; Twine, Wayne; Holdo, Ricardo M. (2021), Data from: Interspecific variation in post-disturbance growth responses of a savanna tree community and its implications for escaping the fire trap, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6hdr7sr01

Abstract

Vegetation states in savannas are highly sensitive to tree growth rates, which determine whether individual trees can ‘escape’ periodic disturbances. Resprouting trees have lopsided shoot:root ratios and are often multi-stemmed, and these variables can modify post-disturbance growth rates and therefore the probability of escape. To date, few studies have systematically examined the implications of interspecific variation in these factors for escape. We conducted a two-year field experiment in lowveld savanna in South Africa and quantified post-disturbance growth characteristics of topkilled trees among 16 species. We examined the dependence of growth on pre-disturbance stem size across species, and the relationship between growth rates and the tendency of trees to produce a few large vs. many small resprouts following disturbance. We found that resprout growth was strongly influenced by pre-disturbance size, but the relationship did not vary among species. In contrast, our results showed that fast-growing species tend to allocate resources towards a few dominant stems, while slow-growing species allocated new biomass towards many smaller stems. Tree species that produced a few large stems also tended to produce individual stems that were tall and thin, further suggesting that the “few large vs. many small” axis is linked to intrinsic species attributes. These findings have implications for understanding how interspecific variation in savanna tree communities may influence their ability to escape disturbance traps.

Usage Notes

Tree data from the Wits Rural Facility in Limpopo, South Africa

One file containing data for all trees in the study including GPS locations, heights, mean gap fractions, and initial and final stem diameters and stem counts.

One README.txt file containing the associated metadata.