Post-fire Regeneration Traits of Understorey Shrub Species Modulate Successional Responses to High Severity Fire in Mediterranean Pine Forests

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Title: Post-fire Regeneration Traits of Understorey Shrub Species Modulate Successional Responses to High Severity Fire in Mediterranean Pine Forests
Authors: Vasques, Ana | Baudena, Mara | Vallejo, V. Ramon | Kéfi, Sonia | Bautista, Susana | Santana, Víctor M. | Baeza, M. Jaime | Maia, Paula | Keizer, Jan J. | Rietkerk, Max
Research Group/s: Gestión de Ecosistemas y de la Biodiversidad (GEB)
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ecología | Universidad de Alicante. Instituto Multidisciplinar para el Estudio del Medio "Ramón Margalef"
Keywords: Facultative shrub species | Obligate seeder shrub species | Pine forests | Arrested succession | Mediterranean plant communities | Cellular automata | Wildfires | Oak regeneration
Knowledge Area: Ecología
Issue Date: 15-Mar-2022
Publisher: Springer Nature
Citation: Ecosystems. 2023, 26: 146-160.
Abstract: Recurrent fires can impede the spontaneous recruitment capacity of pine forests. Empirical studies have suggested that this can lead to a prolonged replacement of pine forest by shrubland, especially if shrub species are pyrophytic. Model-based studies, however, have suggested that post-fire succession of pine forest under current climatic conditions will eventually tend towards the dominance of oaks under high fire severity and recurrence. These previous modelling studies did not address the role of the various post-fire regeneration traits of the understory shrub species. Considering the dichotomy of obligate seeder vs. resprouter species, either obligate or facultative resprouter, we hypothesized that when the shrubs present are post-fire seeders, the oaks steadily occupy the forest, whereas resprouter shrub species might compete with oaks and delay or arrest post-fire succession. To test this hypothesis, we developed a dynamic, cellular automaton model for simulating post-fire successional transitions in pine forests, including shrubs, pines and oaks, and stochastic fires of regular frequency. Our results showed a strong tendency towards oak dominance as final model state and a very reduced role of fire recurrence in this final state, with low yearly acorn input delaying oak dominance. Most relevantly, and in line with our hypothesis, the trend towards oak dominance depended markedly on the two types of shrub species, being delayed by resprouter species, which extended the shrub-dominated succession stage for several centuries. Our simulation results supported the view that the type of understorey species should be a key consideration in post-fire restoration strategies aiming to enhance fire resilience.
Sponsor: This research has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under the grant agreement no. 283068 (CASCADE project). Thanks are due to FCT/MCTES for the financial support to CESAM (UIDP/50017/2020+UIDB/50017/2020), through national funds and the post-doctoral research contract of Jacob Keizer (FCT-IF/01465/2015), and to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation for financial support (CGL2017-89804-R) of the work of Susana Bautista. The work of Paula Maia was partially supported by the project SuSPiRe (PTDC/ASP-SIL/30983/2017) funded by FCT, through COMPETE2020—Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI).
ISSN: 1432-9840 (Print) | 1435-0629 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s10021-022-00750-z
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2022 The Author(s). Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Peer Review: si
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INV - GEB - Artículos de Revistas
Research funded by the EU

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