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The concept of stand senescence in chaparral and other mediterranean type ecosystems






Acta Oecologica 11(2): 181-190

The concept of stand senescence in chaparral and other mediterranean type ecosystems

California chaparral stands, as well as other mediterranean type communities are often described as senescent after a long fire free interval. Senescence is not clearly defined at the stand level and is often confused with senescence of individual shrubs. This paper reviews the concept of senescence, evidence for its occurrence and investigates the likely mechanism involved through simulation modelling. A simple model of stand dynamics is developed which describes the change in biomass, productivity and cover during a long fire free interval. The model is used to compare the patterns of stand dynamics which would be expected when senescence at the plant level occurs with the pattern in the absence of shrub senescence. While senescence of individual shrubs produces a striking pattern of declining biomass and cover, it is not required to explain stand decline. A lack of recruitment and an absolute limit to shrub size are sufficient conditions to produce patterns which are described as stand level senescence in mediterranean type ecosystems. The use of the term senescence to describe stand level decline is misleading because of its implication of senescence of individual shrubs.

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Accession: 001968888



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