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Prescribed burning as an alternative management in grasslands of temperate Europe: The impact on seeds.

Domenii publicaţii > Biologie + Tipuri publicaţii > Articol în revistã ştiinţificã

Autori: Ruprecht, E., Fenesi, A., Fodor, E.I., Kuhn, T.

Editorial: Basic and Applied Ecology, 14, p.642-650, 2013.


Fire is not an integral part of terrestrial ecosystems in temperate Europe, nevertheless prescribed burning is proposed to be an alternative to traditional management applied to grasslands. Thus, anthropogenic fire represents a serious challenge to plant species, and there is no information on how the recruitment of species responds to fire. The aim of our study was to assess the effect of fire on seed germination of 16 herbaceous grassland and ruderal species belonging to four common families. We first assessed the fuel load in open habitats in early spring and measured soil temperatures during experimental fires. After that we performed a controlled pot experiment involving heat treatments and experimental fire applied to seeds and followed their germination. Our measurements showed that maximum temperatures are between 73 oC and 264 oC on the ground surface and fire passage is fast, with short residence times of high temperatures. In deeper soil layers (1 cm and 5 cm), temperature increase is negligible. Seed germination of half of the species was decreased by the passage of fire, and a heat shock of 100 oC for 5 min had an even stronger adverse effect. Seeds of three Fabaceae species were stimulated by heat or fire, while negative effects prevailed among species belonging to other families. Anthropogenic fire in grasslands of temperate Europe might reduce recruitment by seed, particularly in species of the Asteraceae and Poaceae, two very important families with a large representation in temperate grasslands. Our results indicate that prescribed burning should be carefully applied in order not to endanger the local persistence of grassland species whose seedling emergence is negatively affected by fire.

Cuvinte cheie: Asteraceae; Heat shock; Heat treatment; Experimental fire; Fabaceae; Fire temperature; Lamiaceae; Phylogeny; Poaceae.