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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 619-627

Stature of Juvenile Trees in Response to Anthropogenic Fires in a Tropical Deciduous Forest of Central India

1 Archbold Biological Station, 123 Main Drive, Venus, FL 33960 and Department of Biological Sciences, 845 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7060, USA
2 Department of Biological Sciences, 845 West Taylor Street, Chicago IL 606077060, USA

Correspondence Address:
Sonali Saha
Archbold Biological Station, 123 Main Drive, Venus, FL 33960
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Fire is an integral component of many temperate and tropical eco­systems, but it can be disruptive when it occurs in normally fire-free environ­ments. Tropical deciduous forests in India have experienced annual anthro­pogenic fires for hundreds of years. We examined the effects of anthropogenic fires and fire exclusion on the stature of juvenile trees (_<1.5 m) in a tropical deciduous forest in central India. Plots burnt for 2 consecutive years showed no difference in juvenile size-class distribution before and after the treatment was imposed, while the juvenile trees in plots protected from fires showed a significant increase in height and attained greater stature. In plots protected from fire, juvenile trees exhibited some die-back as a result of dry season drought; however, the proportion of juveniles that died back was significantly smaller than the plants that experienced die-back in burnt plots. Relative growth rate of juvenile trees was significantly greater in unburned plots than in plots burned consecutively for 2 years (P < 0.05). Thus, our results suggest that anthropogenic fires stunt the growth of juvenile trees.

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