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Community abundance of resprouting in woody plants reflects fire return time, intensity, and type

Shen, Y. ORCID:, Cai, W. ORCID:, Prentice, I. C. and Harrison, S. P. ORCID: (2023) Community abundance of resprouting in woody plants reflects fire return time, intensity, and type. Forests, 14 (5). 878. ISSN 1999-4907

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/f14050878


Plants in fire-prone ecosystems have evolved a variety of mechanisms to resist or adapt to fire. Post-fire resprouting is a key adaptation that promotes rapid ecosystem recovery and hence has a major impact on the terrestrial carbon cycle. However, our understanding of how the incidence of resprouting varies in different fire regimes is largely qualitative. The increasing availability of plant trait data and plot-based species cover data provides an opportunity to quantify the relationships between fire-related traits and fire properties. We investigated the quantitative relationship between fire frequency (expressed as the fire return time) and the proportion of resprouters in woody plants using plot data on species cover from Australia and Europe. We also examined the relationship between the proportion of resprouters and gross primary production (GPP) and grass cover, where GPP was assumed to reflect fuel loads and hence fire intensity, while grass cover was considered to be an indicator of the likelihood of ground fire and the speed of fire spread, using generalised linear modelling. The proportion of resprouting species decreased significantly as the fire return time increased. When the fire return time was considered along with other aspects of the fire regime, the proportion of resprouters had significant negative relationships with the fire return time and grass cover and a significant positive relationship with GPP. These findings demonstrate that plants with the ability to resprout occur more often where fire regimes are characterised by high-frequency and high-intensity crown fires. Establishing quantitative relationships between the incidence of resprouting and the fire return time and fire type provides a basis for modelling resprouting as a consequence of the characteristics of the fire regime, which in turn makes it possible to model the consequences of changing fire regimes on ecosystem properties.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:111866
Uncontrolled Keywords:Forestry
Publisher:MDPI AG


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