Composition and species diversity of pine-wiregrass savannas of the Green Swamp, North Carolina

  • Authors: Walker, Joan; Peet, Robert K.
  • Publication Year: 1983
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: Vegetatio 55, 163 179 (1983).


Fire-maintained, species-rich pines wiregrass savannas in the Green Swamp, North Carolina were sampled over their natural range of environmental conditions and fire frequencies. Species composition, species richness, diversity (Exp H', I/ C), and aboveground production were documented and fertilization experiments conducted to assess possible mechanisms for the maintenance of high species diversity in these communities. Although savanna composition varies continuously, DECORANA ordination and TWINSPAN classification of 2 I sites facilitated recognition of 3 community types: dry, mesic, and wet savannas. These savannas are remarkably species-rich with up to 42 species/O.25 m2 and 84 species/625 m2. Maximum richness occurred on mesic, annually burned sites. Aboveground production, reported as peak standing crop, was only 293 g*m2 on a frequently burned mesic savanna but was significantly higher (375 g*m2) on an infrequently burned mesic site. Production values from fertilized high and low fire frequency sites were equivalent. Monthly harvest samples showed that savanna biomass composition by species groups did not vary seasonally, but within groups the relative importance of species showed clear phenological progressions. The variation in species richness with fire frequency is consistent with non-equilibrium theories of species diversity, while phenological variation in production among similar species and the changing species composition across the moisture gradient suggest the importance of equilibrium processes for maintenance of savanna diversity.

  • Citation: Walker, Joan; Peet, Robert K. 1983. Composition and species diversity of pine-wiregrass savannas of the Green Swamp, North Carolina. Vegetatio 55, 163 179 (1983).
  • Posted Date: April 1, 1980
  • Modified Date: August 22, 2006
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