Fire is a common natural disaster that effects Southern California. Combined with recent chronic drought, there has been an increase in the damage and frequency of these fires in recent years. Three chaparral species are common to the Pepperdine campus: Malosma laurina, Ceanothus spinosus, and Ceanothus megacarpus. The survival of these native species is essential because they are indicators for the changes that are occurring in our local ecosystem and provide further implications of how our ecosystem responds to natural disaster. Seedling recruitment and resprouting are mechanisms these chaparral species use to reestablish postfire. Postfire data have been recorded from these species since 1986 at the same study site at Pepperdine (Site 3). Through this experiment, I wanted to determine how the Woolsey fire affected these plants. I did this by using twenty-one 1x1 meter quadrats, and observing over 300 burned individuals of both C. spinosus and M. laurina at three different sites. When compared to postfire 1996 and 2008, I found that each specie experienced significant decline in seedling recruitment. I also recorded the lowest postfire resprout success in both C. spinosus (21%) and M. laurina (42%) ever seen at Pepperdine University. In addition, we observed a local extinction of Ceanothus megacarpus, as there was no seedling recruitment found. This study highlights the detriment of increasing fire frequency on native chaparral species at Pepperdine University's campus, as well as throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.
Smith, Karagan L. and Davis, Stephen D., "Seedling and Resprout Survival of Three Chaparral Species Following Woolsey Wildfire" (2019). Pepperdine University, Featured Research. Paper 151.