Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Panicum hemitomon


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A. 1994. Panicum hemitomon. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : PANHEM SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : PAHE2 COMMON NAMES : maidencane paille fine canouche TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of maidencane is Panicum hemitomon Schultes [6,17,39]. It is in the family Poaceae. There are no currently accepted infrataxa. LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Maidencane occurs on the coastal plain from New Jersey south through Florida and west to Texas [14,39]. It is found in Tennessee [20]. Maidencane also occurs in South America [12,15]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : AL DE FL GA LA MD MS NJ NC SC TN TX VA BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K078 Southern cordgrass prairie K080 Marl - everglades K091 Cypress savanna K092 Everglades K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin SAF COVER TYPES : 98 Pond pine 100 Pondcypress 101 Baldcypress 102 Baldcypress - tupelo 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Maidencane occurs as a vegetation type in the following classification: The natural features of southern Florida especially the vegetation, and the Everglades [9] Common associates of maidencane include pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), lance pickerelweed (P. lanceolata), southern cattail (Typha domingensis), common cattail (T. latifolia), narrowleaf cattail (T. angustifolia), bladderwort (Utricularia spp.), white water-lily (Nymphaea odorata), floating heart (Nymphoides aquaticum), pipewort (Eriocaulon compressum), swamp-lily (Crinum americanum), bulltongue (Sagittaria lancifolia), wapato arrowhead (S. latifolia), sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), bulrush (Scirpus spp.), beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.), spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), and sedge (Carex spp.) [7,27,29,41]. Maidencane is a component of the sawgrass-arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.)-maidencane community, the most extensive association of the Everglades in Florida. It is also a component of the sawgrass-maidencane type, which normally occupies drier sites [29]. In wet prairies maidencane can be a codominant on short beakrush (Rhynchospora tracyi) flats [27,29]. Maidencane is a dominant in wetlands scattered within dry prairies and flatwoods in Sarasota and Manatee counties, Florida [23]. Maidencane is a dominant in flag (pickerelweed, fire flag [Thalia geniculata], arrowhead, and other species with flaglike leaves) marshes of Florida [27]. Maidencane is a dominant in open marsh areas of the Okefenokee Swamp in Florida and Georgia [7]. Maidencane was the dominant vegetation as an emergent aquatic and as a terrestrial plant on open wet mesic sites on the shore of Gannet Pond in northern Leon County, Florida. In the shrub zone located between open maidencane and forest, associates of understory maidencane included buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), willow (Salix spp.), and lizards's tail (Saururus cernuus) [48]. Maidencane in southeastern Louisiana freshwater marshes can occur as a codominant with Olney threesquare (Scirpus americanus) [41] and as a dominant with common cattail and giant bulrush (Scirpus californicus) [31,36]. Maidencane is dominant in the floating fresh marshes of south-central Louisiana [31,34,37].


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Maidencane has high yield and forage quality [17,24]. It is preferred cattle forage in south Florida [50], being prominent in cattle diets during the summer [24]. Many maidencane flatwood marshes in Florida are used for cattle grazing [27]. Maidencane in south Florida is an important deer food [50]. Maidencane marshes in Florida are used extensively by the endangered Florida panther [27]. Studies of muskrat use of maidencane habitat differ in their results. Of the five important plant communities in Everglades National Park, round-tailed muskrats seem to be best adapted to the maidencane marsh habitat of wet prairies. This habitat was highly utilized in 1974 and supported the greatest round-tailed muskrat densities. Round-tailed muskrats showed positive selectivity for maidencane marsh, though this was the least abundant plant association in wet prairies of Everglades National Park. Maidencane was used both for food and for nest materials [45]. However, maidencane can become so abundant that the habitat becomes less suitable for some wildlife. Common muskrats occupy floating freshwater marshes in southeastern Louisiana. As maidencane dominance increases, the carrying capacity for common muskrats and waterfowl declines [31]. Maidencane has been considered a serious pest in waterfowl habitat. It is a very strong competitor with duck food plants across its range [32]. Maidencane vegetation is used as habitat by mammals, amphibians, birds and reptiles. In Leon County, Florida, maidencane vegetation harbors eastern woodrats, northern leopard frogs, black swamp snakes, bullfrogs, green anoles, and spring peepers. Resident birds included great egrets, northern bobwhites, northern cardinals, American crows, common moorhens, great blue herons, little blue herons, northern mockingbirds, common grackles, red-winged blackbirds, and snowy egrets. American alligators use the maidencane-covered shoreline [48]. Maidencane in peripheral areas of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps and ponds in Alachua and Bradford counties, Florida, was used as habitat by round-tailed muskrats, marsh rabbits, cotton rats (Sigmodon spp.), eastern woodrats, Virginia opossums, and white-tailed deer [19]. Maidencane is an important component of open marshes in the Okefenokee Swamp. These marshes and their included ponds and lakes are the only habitats used by sandhill cranes, American bitterns, least bitterns, common moorhens, and round-tailed muskrats. The marshes are the preferred habitat of American alligators, little blue herons, glossy ibises, and ospreys [7]. Maidencane wet prairies in south Florida harbor abundant invertebrates and other small aquatic animals, and have the highest density of small-fish populations of any south Florida freshwater vegetative type. These help maintain the wading-bird populations of south Florida [50]. Male Florida largemouth bass in Orange Lake, Alachua County, Florida, a lake without a firm inorganic substrate, used the firm detritus in emergent maidencane as a nest substrate much more often than would be expected from the availability of maidencane vegetation [4]. PALATABILITY : Maidencane is an important forage grass which becomes tougher and less palatable as it matures [28]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Chemical analysis of maidencane showed it was especially high in crude protein [28]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Maidencane is important as a soil binder in some areas because of its extensive rhizome system [17]. Maidencane can be used for controlling shoreline erosion of lakes, ponds, and irrigation reservoirs. It is an aquatic to semiaquatic grass that will spread from the shoreline both toward and away from the water. The stems, sterile shoots, leaves, and rhizomes form a dense vegetative mat holding the soil in place. Maidencane was measured as spreading 24 to 30 inches (60-76 cm) per growing season. Maidencane was compared with five other grasses at the Soil Conservation Service's plant materials center in Coffeeville, Mississippi; it was found to be far superior to the others in withstanding erosion [3,16]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Maidencane is sometimes considered a weed in moist cultivated fields [20]. Maidencane is occasionally harvested for hay. On most sites it produces 4 to 5 tons of high-quality forage per acre. For maximum production and feed quality, no more than 50 percent of the current year's growth by weight should be grazed [28]. Maidencane is a decreaser in response to grazing [27]. In southern Louisiana, fresh marsh was dominated by maidencane until heavily grazed by cattle [34]. Maidencane disappears from Florida marshes in which the seasonal drawdown has been eliminated. This occurs whether the water level is raised, stabilized, or lowered [27,50]. Long periods of inundation rapidly shift wet prairies to slough communities without maidencane; much increased dry periods can result in invasion of sawgrass and lesser maidencane presence [45]. Dominant stands of maidencane have appeared as a major component of the Everglades National Park flora and may be increasing as a result of drainage [21,45]. Maidencane was not adversely affected by secondarily treated sewage treatment plant wastewater that was used to irrigate two cypress domes in north Florida [11].


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Maidencane is a native, warm-season, rhizomatous, perennial grass [28]. Culms are stout, 1.6 to 6 feet (0.5-1.8 m) tall [20,28], and erect or sprawling [39]; culms often produce roots at lower submersed nodes [12,14]. Culms can be fertile or sterile [6]. Leaf blades are 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) long and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) wide [28]. The inflorescence is a slender, compact panicle 2.4 to 12 inches (6-30 cm) long [14,20] with ascending branches [39]. The fruit is a caryopsis [17]. The extensive creeping rhizomes are elongated [15,28]; they often produce numerous sterile shoots with overlapping sheaths [20]. The canelike air-filled roots [43] form a compact mass 15 to 18 inches (38-46 cm) in thickness [34]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte Hydrophyte Helophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Maidencane propagates primarily by rhizomes [29,48], but also fruits abundantly during wet years that follow periods of drought [29]. Maidencane can sprout from culm nodes. When these culms float free, each becomes a vegetative propagule which can establish in a new site [31]. Maidencane in freshwater marshes in Louisiana may become elevated on peat soils of its own origin, so that its roots and rhizomes are above the more stable lower soils. If the water level of the basin rises to where the root anchorage of maidencane can no longer hold against the buoyant stress of its air-filled roots, the entire vegetative crust will break away and form a floating marsh [34]. During periods of rising water maidencane grows rapidly, maintaining sparse stands in 3 feet (0.9 m) or more of water for 9 months to a year [29]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Maidencane occurs in freshwater marshes [28], swamps [12], ponds [14], on wet shores [12], along riverbanks [6,20], ditches [28], drainage canals [15], and on wet disturbed sites [52]. Maidencane is strictly a freshwater species [22,34]. It does not occur in marshlands that have even slightly brackish water [28,36]. It can occur as an emergent in water or as a terrestrial plant in moist areas [45,48]; it generally attains its greatest density on the drier sites [29]. Maidencane grows best if the water level fluctuates from 2 inches above soil surface to 4 inches below [28]. However, it is found in areas that have a wide range of hydroperiods, and it shows considerable tolerance for both flooding and dry conditions. Maidencane occurs on wet soils of beaches which are never flooded [48]. It is widespread in the Everglades, where water levels fluctuate widely [29,45,51]. It occurs in the Big Cypress Swamp of southwestern Florida in areas which are flooded to a depth of 3.9 inches (10 cm) 120 days during the summer wet season [2]. Maidencane is dominant in Florida wet marshes, where hydroperiods are 50 to 150 days per year and in Florida flag marshes, where the hydroperiod varies from 180 to 270 days per year and water depth is between 1 and 3.3 feet (0.3-1.0 m) [27]. In south Florida, maidencane is usually found where the soil is inundated 200 to 250 days annually [18]. In the marshes of the upper St. Johns River in Florida, maidencane grows where the hydroperiod exceeds 290 days [27]. Maidencane grows on a wide range of soils, from firm mineral clays to floating organic soils [28]. It occurs on a hard clay pond bottom covered with a thin layer of muck in Leon County, Florida [48]. It grows on sandy loam or loamy sand above impenetrable limestone bedrock in Liberty County, Florida [44]. It is found on sandy soil with no detectable organic material in Big Cypress Swamp [2]. It occurs in Florida wet prairies where organic matter accumulation ranges from zero to a few inches; it occurs on sandy substrates where organic matter accumulation is less than 3 feet (1 m) in Florida flag marshes. Florida maidencane flatwood marshes on sandy substrates typically have a sphagnum (Sphagnum spp.) moss mat [27]. Maidencane occurs in south-central Louisiana floating marshes, where its roots are embedded in floating peat [34,37]. Maidencane is found on acid soils developed from sands and clays in cypress heads of north-central peninsular Florida [33]; in coastal Louisiana, it is found in freshwater marshes where pH ranges from 4.3 to 6.3 [5]. Climate in the maritime communities of the southeastern United States is characterized by mild winters with high humidity and long, hot, humid summers. In the regions in which maidencane occurs, winter temperatures are usually moderated by prevailing winds off large bodies of water. Rainfall patterns vary over the range of maidencane. In southwestern Florida the dry season occurs from October through May; the wet season is from June through September [23]. The rainfall along the Louisiana coast is well distributed throughout the year, with the maximum in July and the minimum in October [5]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Maidencane is usually found on open sites, but is sometimes found in sparser stands under partial canopy shade. Maidencane in marshes of Sarasota and Manatee counties of Florida was not found under canopy cover of red maple (Acer rubrum), buttonbush, Coastal Plain willow (Salix caroliniana), popash (Fraximus caroliniana), or laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia). It was a dominant in adjacent areas without canopy cover [23]. Maidencane succeeds cattail or sawgrass in the eastern region of freshwater marshes along the Gulf Coast [1]. When shallow marshes in Florida are completely replaced by woody thickets, maidencane disappears. Relatively frequent fires coupled with fluctuating water levels maintain the integrity of Florida marshes and arrest succession [27]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Maidencane sprouts from rhizomes in late winter and grows until fall. Aboveground stems die back in winter [27,38]; where frost occurs, they die back immediately after first frost [28]. Rafts of recumbent leaves are produced when aboveground portions die [27]. Maidencane in freshwater marshes bordering Lac des Allemands in Louisiana was dormant in January and February, having no live leaf biomass. It began growing from rhizomes in March, reached its highest live leaf biomass from July through November, and decreased rapidly in December [38]. Maidencane in wet meadows at Paynes Prairie in central Florida was dormant from the last week in October to the end of January. It resumed growth the first week of February, and continued growth to the third week in May. Inflorescences developed and expanded from the last week of May through the first week of June. Flowering occurred the second week of June, and fruit dispersed from the middle of June to the middle of July. Maidencane remained green until the last week of September, when it began to dry as it approached dormancy [35]. Because of their relatively short hydroperiods, flatwoods marshes in Florida experience marked seasonal variation in dominance. In maidencane flag marshes, maidencane and floating heart are dominant in spring, but beakrush and bald rush (Psilocarya nitens) become more apparent as the dry season progresses [27]. Maidencane blooms in June and July in New Jersey [12] and the Carolinas [39]; it blooms in May and June in panhandle Florida [6].


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Maidencane is a rhizomatous species which sprouts after aerial portions are burned [48]. Summer is the natural fire season in Florida marshes; lightning is most frequent then, but soil moisture levels are high and plants are growing. Organic soils fail to ignite when moisture content is above 65 percent, and wet season fires are typically confined to the abovewater vegetation. Fire periodicity in most deep water marshes is about 3 to 5 years. Shallow water marshes burn on 1- to 3-year cycles, provided plant growth is sufficient to carry a fire [27]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil Secondary colonizer - on-site seed


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Maidencane grows in wet to moist areas where its rhizomes are generally protected from damage by fire when aerial portions burn [48]. In the upper Everglades area, fires which occur during normal hydroperiod cycles, when water levels do not recede more than 4 or 5 inches below the surface of the ground, have a positive effect on maidencane. It recovers very rapidly and grows more vigorously than prior to burning. During extreme drought periods, water levels may recede 3 or 4 feet below the surface of the ground. Then fire destroys not only the aerial vegetation but also the upper, dry, compacted peat layers to a depth of 3 or 4 inches and up to a foot or more in localized areas. Maidencane is killed when its rhizomes are burned [29]; whether death occurs is determined by depth of rhizomes and depth of burning. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Maidencane grows quickly from rhizome buds following a growing-season fire in which rhizomes are not injured [27]. It can sprout within 3 or 4 days after burning [29]. Significant growth of maidencane occurs within 1 month after fire, and often within 6 months density is as great as before fire. However, the fire's impact depends on how fast and how deeply the organic soil burns and how slowly the water level rises after the fire [27]. In a greenhouse study using maidencane from South Carolina freshwater wetlands, inundation reduced maidencane growth after fire. Rhizomes from plants that had been recently burned and from those that had not were grown in four water level treatments: (1) permanently inundated soil; (2) inundation followed by moist soil; (3) saturated soil; (4) moist soil. Burning reduced stem numbers and stem height of maidencane in the first and second treatments and had no measurable effects in the remaining two treatments [25]. During the growing season after fire, maidencane sprouts earlier and more thickly on burned than on unburned sites. It also flowers earlier. Fire stimulates seedstalk production and yields [49]. On Gannet Pond in northern Leon County, Florida, maidencane that had been burned a month before while dormant produced green shoots the third week in February 1971. In the first week of March, maidencane was 4 inches (10 cm) tall. By the end of April it was 24 inches (60 cm) tall. Inflorescences were present by the first week in May. Maidencane in the unburned control section did not produce green shoots until March 15, and inflorescences did not appear on unburned shore line until May 11 [48]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The north shore of Gannet Pond, a man-made impoundment in northern Leon County, Florida, was burned during the winter of 1969-70. An experimental section was burned again on January 21, 1971, under conditions which closely simulated a severe wildfire. A line of fire was spread along the water's edge and moved as a headfire 60 feet (18 m) from open water into timber. Fire also backed toward the open-water edge in the emergent aquatic growth. After treatment, maidencane was taller, more robust, and more dense in the burned area. The greatest difference in yield between unburned and burned vegetation was found in the drier portions of the grassy zone, where a 15-inch (37-cm) mat of the previous year's maidencane growth suppressed new growth in the unburned area [48]. In the upper St. Johns Basin in east-central Florida, maidencane marshes have expanded at the expense of sawgrass marshes following deep-burning fires. They now cover 37 percent of the headwater wetlands [27]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Maidencane can be burned to improve wildlife habitat and range [50]. The burning of maidencane along shorelines usually leaves areas of litter, stubble, "rough", and unburned vegetation which provide cover for some species, while improving food sources for others [48]. Maidencane-cattail marsh in southeastern Louisiana can be burned in late winter just before the start of the spring growing season to encourage food plants for muskrats and waterfowl. If this marsh remains unburned for more than 2 or 3 years, maidencane overwhelms more valuable food plants [31]. In Leon County, Florida, recently burned maidencane sites were preferred to unburned sites by many animal species for 4 months after fire. Common moorhens, purple gallinules, and eastern kingbirds preferred burned sites as territories and probably for nesting sites. Great egrets, great blue herons, little blue herons, and snowy egrets were more frequently found on burned than on unburned sites, possibly because they were attracted by the shallow flats on the burned shore line. Mourning doves and common snipe were most common on the fresh burns, where the newly exposed ground made food more available. American alligators used the burned shore almost exclusively [48]. Surface fires do not affect the vegetational structure of a marsh if standing water protects the basal parts of perennial plants [41]. Controlled burning produces favorable results for maidencane except when burning is conducted late in the growing season or under unusually dry conditons that result in ground or peat fires which destroy rhizomes [48]. There should be at least an inch of standing water at the time of a prescribed fire to prevent root burns, which occur in peaty marshes burned during drought conditions. Root burns kill maidencane and allow invasion by earlier successional species [41]. Maidencane disappears when fire exclusion allows woody vegetation to invade wetlands [23]. Fire was excluded from some southwestern Florida maidencane habitats from 1939 to 1968. In that time forest and shrubby vegetation invaded; in the areas of invasion maidencane disappeard [23]. In Florida, shallow maidencane marshes can be completely replaced by woody thickets within 5 to 10 years. Relatively frequent fires help maintain Florida marshes [27]. In Sarasota and Manatee counties, southwestern Florida, prescribed fire in dry conditions early in the growing season is more effective in reducing woody species cover than are dormant-season fires or later wet growing-season fires [23]. Maidencane occurs in open marsh areas of the Okefenokee Swamp, but not in the 80 percent of the swamp covered with forests of pondcypress (Taxodium distichum var. nutans) or swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The open marshes are the result of very severe fires which have killed woody growth and burned away the upper part of the peat bed. Maidencane then invades the marshes. In the absence of severe fires accompanying extreme drought, these marshes gradually revert to swamp forest through the formation and expansion of clumps of trees and shrubs [7,8]. Maidencane in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in south Florida grew in sites that had been logged (1954), burned (1962), or logged and burned (1954 and 1962). Maidencane importance value (the sum of relative dominance, relative abundance, and relative frequency) was recorded between November 1975 and September 1976; importance value was highest (35.5) at the site that had been burned only. Importance value was 8.3 and 1.5 on two logged sites. Maidencane was not present where the land had been both burned and logged, probably because of the severity of soil disturbance and exposure of the organic layer [18]. The lowering of the water table and the shortening of the hydroperiod in drained areas of Florida have contributed to more severe wildfires which have burned out surface layers of peat. Most of the resulting depressions have changed to wet prairies; the lengthening of the hydroperiod in these depressions has resulted in displacement of sawgrass by associations including maidencane. Maidencane flats are becoming more widespread partly because maidencane can tolerate both recurrent fire and widely fluctuating water levels [50].


SPECIES: Panicum hemitomon
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Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124] 7. Cypert, Eugene. 1961. The effects of fires in the Okefenokee Swamp in 1954 and 1955. American Midland Naturalist. 66(2): 485-503. [11018] 8. Cypert, Eugene. 1973. Plant succession on burned areas in Okefenokee Swamp following the fires of 1954 and 1955. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 199-217. [8467] 9. Davis, John H., Jr. 1943. The natural features of southern Florida especially the vegetation, and the Everglades. Geological Bull. No. 25. Tallahassee, FL: State of Florida, Department of Conservation, Florida Geological Survey. 311 p. [17747] 10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 11. Ewel, Katherine Carter. 1984. 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Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Administration. 1051 p. [2nd edition revised by Agnes Chase in two volumes. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.]. [1165] 21. Hofstetter, Ronald H.; Parsons, Frances. 1979. The ecology of sawgrass in the Everglades of southern Florida. In: Linn, Robert M., ed. Proceedings, 1st conference on scientific research in the National Parks; 1976 November 9-12; New Orleans, LA. Vol. 1. Transactions and Proceedings Series No. 5. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service: 165-170. [11527] 22. Howard, R. J.; Mendelssohn, I. A. 1992. Relative salinity pulse tolerance of four common freshwater/intermediate marsh species of coastal Louisiana. In: Abstracts, 43rd annual meeting of the Botanical Society of America; 1992 August 9-13; Honolulu, HI. In: Restoration & Management Notes. 10(2): 194. Abstract. [20166] 23. Huffman, Jean M.; Blanchard, S. W. 1991. 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