Increased aridity drives post‐fire recovery of Mediterranean forests towards open shrublands

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Title: Increased aridity drives post‐fire recovery of Mediterranean forests towards open shrublands
Authors: Baudena, Mara | Santana, Víctor M. | Baeza, M. Jaime | Bautista, Susana | Eppinga, Maarten B. | Hemerik, Lia | Mayor, Angeles G. | Rodríguez, Francisco | Valdecantos, Alejandro | Vallejo, V. Ramon | Vasques, Ana | Rietkerk, Max
Research Group/s: Gestión de Ecosistemas y de la Biodiversidad (GEB) | Análisis de Datos y Modelización de Procesos en Biología y Geociencias
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ecología | Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Matemática Aplicada | CEAM (Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo) | Universidad de Alicante. Instituto Multidisciplinar para el Estudio del Medio "Ramón Margalef"
Keywords: Alternative stable states | Climate change | Forest fires | Increased aridity | Mediterranean shrubland | Resprouters | Seeders | Stochastic dynamical model
Knowledge Area: Ecología
Issue Date: Feb-2020
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: New Phytologist. 2020, 225(4): 1500-1515. doi:10.1111/nph.16252
Abstract: Recent observations suggest that repeated fires could drive Mediterranean forests to shrublands, hosting flammable vegetation that regrows quickly after fire. This feedback supposedly favours shrubland persistence and may be strengthened in the future by predicted increased aridity. An assessment was made of how fires and aridity in combination modulated the dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems and whether the feedback could be strong enough to maintain shrubland as an alternative stable state to forest. A model was developed for vegetation dynamics, including stochastic fires and different plant fire‐responses. Parameters were calibrated using observational data from a period up to 100 yr ago, from 77 sites with and without fires in Southeast Spain and Southern France. The forest state was resilient to the separate impact of fires and increased aridity. However, water stress could convert forests into open shrublands by hampering post‐fire recovery, with a possible tipping point at intermediate aridity. Projected increases in aridity may reduce the resilience of Mediterranean forests against fires and drive post‐fire ecosystem dynamics toward open shrubland. The main effect of increased aridity is the limitation of post‐fire recovery. Including plant fire‐responses is thus fundamental when modelling the fate of Mediterranean‐type vegetation under climate‐change scenarios.
Sponsor: This research was supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 283068 (CASCADE). AGM was supported by the EU-funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action ECOHYDRY (GA660859), SB by the project DRYEX2 (CGL2017-89804-R) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and VMS by a ‘Beatriu de Pinós’ fellowship (2014BP-B-00056).
ISSN: 0028-646X (Print) | 1469-8137 (Online)
DOI: 10.1111/nph.16252
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Peer Review: si
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Appears in Collections:INV - DRYEX - Artículos de Revistas
INV - GEB - Artículos de Revistas
INV - MODDE - Artículos de Revistas

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