Effects of prefire stand age, fire intensity, and hillslope position on postfire vegetation recovery during the first two postfire seasons were studied in two contrasting stands of mixed chaparral at San Diego State University's Sky Oaks Field Station (San Diego County, CA). One stand was approximately 60-years old and the other 12-years old when both burned in the July 2003 Coyote Fire. The two stands showed contrasting patterns of postfire community composition among different plant groups based on their modes of postfire regeneration. Fire intensity was significantly higher in the older stand. Increased fire intensity was positively correlated with establishment of seedlings of Ceanothus greggii var. perplexans (an obligate seeder), and negatively correlated with seedling abundance of Adenostoma fasciculatum (a facultative seeder). Hillslope position was also important in determining patterns of abundance, suggesting that soil erosion and deposition following fire may have a significant effect on postfire community recovery on these steep sites. Alternatively, prefire differences in the chaparral community that were correlated with hillslope position may account for these differences. The postfire herbaceous community in the first year was dominated by Phacelia brachyloba, a fire annual. Contrary to expectations, this species was found in greater abundance in the old stand than in the young. Fire annuals were largely absent from the community in the second year, and were replaced in abundance by a variety of opportunistic native and exotic annuals.
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Vol. 54 • No. 1