Functional Ecology Lab

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Özlem and Anıl successfully defended their M.Sc. theses

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.

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:

İsmail successfully defended his MSc thesis


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!

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.

FESP 2009 was held in Marmaris, Turkey

2nd International Meeting of Fire Effects on Soil Properties (FESP 2009) was held in Marmaris, Turkey by our team on 11-15 February 2009.


A total of 70 participants from 9 countries met to discuss the recent advances in the research of soil-fire relationships in Marmaris.  During the first three days, 3 invited, 30 oral and 35 poster contributions were presented at the Meeting. The last day included a short trip to Pamukkale, Turkey.

A special section (edited by Ç. Tavşanoğlu and X. Úbeda) in the scientific journal Environmental Research was published, including a guest editorial and following six contributions in which presented at the Meeting.

You can access the abstract book following this link.