The role of prescribed burning in maintenance of an endangered plant species, Lomatium bradshawii
Responses of a federally listed endangered plant species, Lomatium bradshawii, to the use of fire as a management tool for maintaining remnant wetland prairies were evaluated at two public land
Responses of a federally listed endangered plant species, Lomatium bradshawii, to the use of fire as a management tool for maintaining remnant wetland prairies were evaluated at two public land areas in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. Areas containing L. bradshawii were treated with two or three fall season prescribed burns during a nine-year period. Foliar crown area, height, umbellets, and schizocarps of 150 L. bradshawii at Rose Prairie and 250 at Fisher Butte and the recruitment and density of L. bradshawii in 2-meter squared plots at both sites were documented during 1988–1996. When both sites were considered together, crown area, height, umbellets, and schizocarps per plant initially responded positively to burn treatments, but increases were not consistent across years or sites. Crown area tended to increase and then decline after each burn. Burning initially enhanced schizocarp production at both sites; schizocarps declined one or two years after burning but remained much higher in the burn treatments than in controls until 1996. Seedling production was not correlated with schizocarp production at either site. Umbellet and schizocarp production were not correlated with January–June temperatures or precipitation at the nearest weather station. Burning accentuated differences in size and reproductive capacity of L. bradshawii at the two sites and differentially affected recruitment and density. Random resampling of L. bradshawii in 1997 indicated that effects of repeated burning during the previous eight years were hard to detect. At Rose Prairie, foliar crown area, height, number of leaves, umbellets, and schizocarps in 1997 were similar or lower with burning than in unburned controls. At Fisher Butte, L. bradshawii in the two burn treatment were similar to control plants, but three burns significantly increased foliar crown area, number of leaves, and schizocarps. Monitoring recovery for one or two years after a burn may only capture the initial stimulation provided by burning and may foster unrealistically high expectations concerning the viability of an endangered plant population.