A clipping experiment was conducted to analyse the effects of intensity and frequency of crown damage on compensatory responses by resprouting in the shrub species Erica arborea. Increased sprout removal (crown damage intensity) promoted recruitment and increased the total dry weight of new sprout cohorts. Mean size (diameter) of new sprout cohorts was greater under increased intensity of crown damage, although no differences in size variability (CV) were obtained. Increased crown damage events stimulated recruitment of new sprouts, but had no effect on their total dry weight and reduced their mean size. Increased intensity and frequency of crown damage also promoted growth (RGR) of uncut sprouts according to local position on the lignotuber. The results show that qualitatively different compensatory responses can be obtained depending on the modular structure of the genet and the frequency and intensity of crown damage. They also suggest that competition for underground resources might be important for explaining the interactions among sprouts within the genet. Modular behavior in resprouting species under extreme disturbance regimes (e.g. heavy grazing after fire) is also expected to have a negative effect on overall genet growth and reproduction.
- Sprout interactions
- Sprout recruitment