Our lab member Elif will be in the United States to study with Paul Gugger in the University of Maryland for six months. She just got a Ph.D. level scholarship from TÜBİTAK, and she will study the genetic structure of oak (Quercus) species endemic to Turkey. This study will also be a part of her Ph.D. thesis.
Özlem Özüdoğru and Anıl Bahar, our lab members, successfully defended their M.Sc. theses.
Özlem’s thesis is about the effects of small-scale disturbance on a plant community in the central Anatolian steppe. She worked both in the field and lab, and her results are the first ones for biodiversity-rich Anatolian steppes. She is leaving our lab after completing her M.Sc. and will continue her professional life as a biology teacher.
Anıl worked on long-term Mediterranean vegetation dynamics using a modeling approach based on plant life-history traits and disturbance properties. In his thesis, he investigated the effects of fire frequency and initial vegetation coverage on these dynamics. Anıl is planning to stay in our lab to keep working on vegetation dynamics models.
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.
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.
One 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 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 & 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: http://www.medecos-aeet-meeting2017.es/
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: http://jgpausas.blogs.uv.es/2017/01/21/a-new-pyroendemic-annual-plant/
A book chapter by our lab PI Çağatay Tavşanoğlu has been published in the book entitled “Evrimin Işığında” [In the Light of Evolution]: Tavşanoğlu, Ç. (2016) Anadolu’nun yüksek biyoçeşitliliği: Evrim bunun neresinde? [High biodiversity of Anatolia: the role of evolution] In: Akış, I., Altınışık, N.E. (Eds.) Evrimin Işığında [In the Light of Evolution], Yazılama Yayınevi, İstanbul, Turkey, pp. 207-225.
The book has been published in Turkish, and the chapter is about the drivers of the exceptional biodiversity of the Anatolian Peninsula. The chapter summarizes the biodiversity of Anatolia briefly and then explains drivers of this exceptional biodiversity for a temperate region country with long-term and recent climatic and geological processes.
The conclusion of the chapter is that the unique regional location of and the huge topographic and climatic diversity inside the Peninsula make Anatolia a gathering center, a diversification center and an ice age refugium for various taxa, which is responsible for the currently observed biodiversity.
The book is an outcome of the 4th and 5th Evrim, Bilim ve Eğitim Sempozyumu [Evolution, Science, and Education Symposium] that were held in İstanbul, Turkey in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The chapter by Çağatay Tavşanoğlu had already been presented in the 4th one.
The book is available from many bookstores in Turkey, but also from the Internet sales.
You can read the chapter from here: [pdf]
3rd Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Symposium, a scientific symposium organized annually by Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Society of Turkey, was held at Hacettepe University between 31 August and 1 September 2016.
Many lab members actively played a role in the organization, and the symposium was a success with 115 participants from nine countries. For more information about EEBST2016, please visit the symposium website: http://www.eebst2016.net/
A recent story in BBC Earth was about the ecology of wildfires. Claire Asher, a freelance science writer, asked many exciting questions about wildfires in her feature article which had been answered by some experts on the field, including our lab PI, Çağatay Tavşanoğlu.
Subheading of the article actually summarizes the main topic of the story: “Humans often fight hard to control wildfires, but many ecosystems need destructive flames to function properly“, but more topics related to fire ecology such as fire regimes, fire adaptations, and post-fire recovery of vegetation can be found within the text of the article.
To read the full article click here.
Photo credit: BBC Earth
İsmail Bekar, our lab member, successfully defended his MSc thesis after a pleasant presentation in Department of Biology at Hacettepe University on 24 June 2016. For his thesis, he studied on the relative role of anthropogenic and natural drivers in shaping recent fire regimes in Mediterranean ecosystems of Turkey using satellite fire data from NASA and a modeling approach.
From now on, he is leaving our lab as he has succeeded to get a scholarship from Swiss government to continue his studies on fire modeling at ETH Zurich. Congratulations!