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Fig. 10.32 Variations in the epigeous biomass (T total; G green; D dry) of a savanna at Calabozo, Venezuela, after it was burned and until it reached a steady state (dotted line) in five years. (Sarmiento 1984; reprinted by permission of Harvard University Press)

growth is induced when the water reserves are already exhausted and growth is very limited. If burning occurs in the middle of the dry season, green biomass is produced, which is maintained until the beginning of the rainy season (Medina 1982; Medina and Silva 1990). The experiments at Calabozo have shown that maximum above-ground biomass in a protected savanna increased during four years after the last fire (Table 10.17) and then stabilized at a certain level (Fig. 10.32). Fire later at the beginning of the rainy season led to lower biomass production than fire before the middle of the dry season (Table 10.18). The seasonal development of the grass Trachypogon plumosus shows that the green biomass after a fire is somewhat increased as compared with the control (Fig. 10.33) and new dry biomass and total above-ground biomass increase rapidly over the year after most of the old biomass was destroyed by the fire.

Table 10.17 Maximum epigeous biomass in a fire-protected Trachypogon savanna at Calabozo, Venezuela. (Sarmiento 1984)

Time since last fire (years) Maximum epigeous biomass (g m-2)

1 230-730

2 520-850

3 980

4 1200

5 1200

Fig. 10.33 Variations in the epigeous biomass of a savanna at Calabozo, Venezuela, during the first year after a fire (F) and in a non-burnt control plot (C). (Sarmiento 1984; reprinted by permission of Harvard University Press)

Table 10.18 The effect of fire given at different times during the year on daily biomass production in a savanna at Calabozo, Venezuela. (Medina 1982)

Biomass production (g m -2 day-1)

Three to four years protected from fire 2.5-2.6

Fire before the middle of the dry period 2.9-3.7

Fire at the beginning of the wet period 1.8-2.1

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