Woody encroachment threatens the loss of remaining grasslands. Clonal shrubs are of particular concern because of their ability to resprout after disturbance, spread vegetatively, and share resources among interconnected stems. These traits contribute to the encroachment of deep-rooted clonal shrubs in tallgrass prairie. In this study, we investigated how leaf physiological traits differ among interconnected stems within a dominant encroaching shrub in tallgrass prairie, Cornus drummondii.
Intra-clonal stem density, natality, mortality, flowering and relative growth rate within discrete Cornus drummondii shrubs in response to fire frequency (4- vs 20-yr burn intervals) and simulated browsing. Tagged stems within individual shrubs were tracked and measured at the beginning and end of each growing season in 2018 and 2019 to assess the interactions of fire and browsing on stem demography.