Legume species distribution and abundance and selected environmental variables were quantified across a complex gradient (varying in both water-holding capacity and fertility) for frequently burned longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)-wiregrass (Aristida stricta) ecosystems. Legumes were present in all months; however, abundance peaked in June and was minimal after killing frosts in October. Legume species were prominent in the flora (43 species encountered) obiquitous (94% of 2- m2 subplots had at least one legume species), and abundant (nearly 120000 stems/ha). Although most species were widely distributed throughout the gradient, Lespedeza angustifolia was distinctly associated with the more hydric end of the gradient, while both Petalostemon pinnatum and Galactia microphylla were located in the more xeric extreme. The percentage variation in species that could be accounted for by environmental variation was low (27%). Of the variation that could be accounted for, a number of environmental variables were important, including soil moisture, pine basal area (i.e., light), and bivalent base cations (e.g., Ca2). Although gradients in resource availability among sites did not affect the distribution of species or abundance of legumes strongly, variation in resources are likely to regulate N2-fixation rates of the various native legume species, and thereby affect ecological functions such as maintenance of N capital and productivity.
Hainds, Mark J.; Mitchell, Robert J.; Palik, Brian J.; Boring, Lindsay R.; Gjerstad, Dean H. 1999. Distribution of native Legumes (Leguminoseae) in frequently burned longleaf pine (Pinaceae)-Wiregrass (Poaceae) ecosystems. Journal of Botany. 86(11): 1606-1614. (1999)