Functional Ecology Lab

Home » fire ecology

Category Archives: fire ecology

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.

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:

“Why we should let raging wildfires burn” by Claire Asher

p04248nmA 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

New paper: Fire-related germination and seedling growth in Central Anatolian steppe

Our paper on fire-related germination and seedling growth in Central Anatolian steppe has been published in Journal of Arid Environments: [Tavşanoğlu, Ç., Çatav, Ş.S., Özüdoğru, B. (2015) Fire-related germination and early seedling growth in 21 herbaceous species in Central Anatolian steppe. Journal of Arid Environments 122: 109-116]. In this paper, we examined the germination and early seedling growth of 21 herbaceous species in Central Anatolian steppe vegetation in relation to fire cues (heat shock and smoke).

Seeds of all studied species were able to tolerate low heat shocks but moderate and high heat shocks had a negative impact on germination and seedling growth.  In Stachys byzantina (Lamiaceae), germination was stimulated by the smoke treatment. Smoke and low heat shocks positively affected the seedling vigor index of six taxa: Diplotaxis tenuifolia (Brassicaceae), Reseda lutea (Resedaceae) in low heat shock treatments; Crepis foetida ssp. rhoedafolia, Crupina crupinastrum (Asteraceae), Daucus carota (Apiaceae) and Sanguisorba minor (Rosaceae) in the smoke treatment.

The results suggest that the seeds of plant species in Central Anatolian steppes are resistant to low-intensity surface fires, but not high-intensity crown fires and that some species take advantage from surface fires. Our results contribute to understanding the role of fire in temperate grassland ecosystems, relatively less studied ecosystem type in relation to fire worldwide. Moreover, our study is the first one conducted in biodiversity-rich Anatolian steppe ecosystems with a fire ecology perspective.