SUNI Mery L., VADILLO Giovana P., ARANA César, JARA-PEÑA Enoc, SALINAS Letty, PONCE M. Estela, RAMSAY Paul M.. 2024: Post-fire recovery of Puya raimondii, vegetation and birds in the puna of Huascarán National Park, Perú. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(1): 20-32. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-023-8263-7
Citation: SUNI Mery L., VADILLO Giovana P., ARANA César, JARA-PEÑA Enoc, SALINAS Letty, PONCE M. Estela, RAMSAY Paul M.. 2024: Post-fire recovery of Puya raimondii, vegetation and birds in the puna of Huascarán National Park, Perú. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(1): 20-32. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-023-8263-7

Post-fire recovery of Puya raimondii, vegetation and birds in the puna of Huascarán National Park, Perú

  • A large fire of 233 ha in Huascarán National Park in Peru provided an opportunity to compare plant and bird responses in burned and nearby unburned zones of the puna. Heights and live diameters of flagship Puya raimondii rosettes (assigned to four broad developmental phases), plant communities (66 species in 24 families and nine growth forms) and bird communities (77 species in six trophic guilds) were monitored after the fire. Although no mortality was observed, Puya raimondii plants were affected by the fire, losing approximately 60% of their photosynthetic area across all developmental phases, but recovered quickly during the first two years after fire. The comparison of Puya rosette recovery after fire was complicated by the changes in live rosette diameter for unburned plants, which showed plasticity of photosynthetic area linked to seasonal and annual fluctuations in precipitation in this relatively dry environment (decreased by 26% for mature adult plants over the study period). Fire caused an immediate change in the density, biomass and composition of vegetation. Although the species present remained similar, their abundances changed significantly immediately after the fire, with notable reductions in dominant tussock grasses. This provided opportunities for other plants, resulting in higher post-fire diversity of plant species, genera, families and growth forms. In turn, the changes in vegetation after fire affected the composition of birds according to their trophic guild. Granivores largely disappeared, generalists were mostly unaffected, and other guilds showed a more complex response. As the vegetation recovered, most displaced birds returned within approximately one year.
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