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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:

New chapter on drivers of the exceptional biodiversity of Anatolia

evrimin_isigindaA 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]

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.