Dr. Stephen D. Davis: Influence of California’s Historic Drought on Chaparral Community Structure


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Chaparral shrub species of California are known for their ability to survive several environmental stresses, such as recurrent summer drought, periodic wildfire, and winter freezing. For example, many species can re-sprout from the ground after fire, and fire stimulates seed germination for other species. However, there are limits to survival that differ among chaparral shrubs in response to wildfire, depending on whether they re-sprout or re-seed, on their developmental stage, and on possible interactions among other stress factors such as drought and freezing, drought and wildfire, and drought/wildfire/deer browse. Southern California has been facing record drought, with possible profound implications for the chaparral plant community.