Functional Ecology Lab

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Yearly Archives: 2017

Juli Pausas’ visit to Turkey

Last month (April 2017), the well-known fire ecologist Juli G. Pausas visited Turkey as our lab’s guest for more than a week. Our lab members were delighted by his visit, all of us had many opportunities to discuss projects, papers, and possible new collaborations.

During his visit, Juli gave a seminar on the relationship between wildfire and biodiversity in the Department of Biology at Hacettepe University, which draws interest as more than 80 audiences participated, and as with almost one hour of question-answer session.

juli pausas banner juli-pausas-seminar-hacettepe1

Juli Pausas lecture

He also joined the fire ecology postgraduate course of the department and discussed his papers with students. Our lab members also participated the discussion. The papers were selected by students, so they had opportunities to ask questions the author of the papers they had studied.

serotinous cone Pinus brutiaOne purpose of Juli’s visit was to discuss the methodology of our lab’s new project on fire-related traits of Turkish red pine (Pinus brutia). For this, we performed a field trip to Muğla Province in southwestern Turkey where many forests of this tree species are found. During this field trip, we had the opportunity to optimize the sampling design and the procedures of measuring fire-related traits such as serotiny, bark thickness, and self-pruning. You can also read his observations about the fire-related traits of P. brutia in his blog entry.

Gökhan successfully defended his M.Sc. thesis

Gokhan_ErganGökhan Ergan, our lab member, successfully defended his M.Sc. thesis after his presentation to more than 80 people in Department of Biology at Hacettepe University on 1st March 2017. His thesis included four chapters on the relationship of Mediterranean plants with fire, including one field-based post-fire regeneration study, and three independent laboratory experiments on post-fire germination of Mediterranean plants.

From now on, he is leaving our lab as he founded an association to conduct ecological studies in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions of Turkey.

XIV MEDECOS Conference


XIV MEDECOS Conference & XIII AEET Meeting were held in Sevilla, Spain between 31 January and 4 February 2017. The conference was a huge and successful one with about 600 participants and more than 250 oral presentations.

Our lab PI Çağatay Tavşanoğlu attended the conference with an oral presentation titled “Resprouting ability encapsulates the most functional variability in the Mediterranean Basin flora” (Ç. Tavşanoğlu & Juli G. Pausas). Our former lab member, İsmail Bekar, also attended and he presented his M.Sc. study that was conducted in our lab (İ. Bekar & Ç. Tavşanoğlu, “The role of anthropogenic and natural factors in shaping recent fire regimes in Mediterranean ecosystems“).

MEDECOS is the International Mediterranean Ecosystems Conference, and AEET is Spanish Terrestrial Ecology Association. The next MEDECOS will be in South Africa in 2020.

For more information and the abstract book of the conference:

New paper: Multiple fire-related cues stimulate germination in Chaenorhinum rubrifolium (Plantaginaceae), a rare annual in the Mediterranean Basin

Our paper on fire-related germination in a rare annual plant species in Turkey has been published in Seed Science Research: [Tavşanoğlu, Ç., Ergan, G., Çatav, Ş.S., Zare, G., Küçükakyüz, K., Özüdoğru, B. (2017) Multiple fire-related cues stimulate germination in Chaenorhinum rubrifolium (Plantaginaceae), a rare annual in the Mediterranean Basin. Seed Science Research. doi:10.1017/S0960258516000283]. In this paper, we examined the effect of several fire-related cues (including heat shocks, smoke, and chemicals found in smoke) on the germination of Chaenorhinum rubrifolium, a rare Mediterranean annual.

The species was only found in a restricted area in a recently burned site in Ören, Muğla, Turkey, and this is the first record of this species for Turkish flora. This record will be a subject of a separate taxonomic paper (Zare et al., submitted). Our findings on the germination behavior of the species in relation to fire also support this field observation.

Among the fire-related cues that were tested in the study, smoke solutions, nitrate, karrikinolide (a compound found in smoke), and mandelonitrile (an analogue of cyanohydrins that are found in smoke) stimulated germination, with an increase from zero percentage (in the control) up to ~47% (in karrikinolide treatment). Although various heat shocks did not stimulate germination,  the combination of heat shock and smoke treatments increased germination up to 43% in comparison to smoke treatment only (~19%). The highest percentage of germination achieved in the combined treatment of karrikinolide and mandelonitrile (~63%). All these maximum values were reached under photoperiod conditions, and the germination was limited under dark conditions. These findings suggest that several fire-related cues operate to stimulate germination in C. rubrifolium.

Annual species are important components of post-fire plant communities of the Mediterranean Basin, but less studies have been conducted in relation to their fire-related germination in comparison to perennial species. Moreover, the Mediterranean Basin has been underestimated with respect to the presence of the species with fire-related germination in comparison with other Mediterranean-type ecosystems. Therefore, our study suggests that much evidence has been overlooked by focusing on the germination of perennial, especially woody, species.

Finally, our results on karrikinolide and mandelonitrile are the first records of the stimulation of germination by smoke chemicals in a plant species in the Mediterranean Basin, and constitute one of the novel aspects of our study.

Another blog entry (by J.G. Pausas) related to our paper can be reached from this link: