Post-fire plant regeneration across a closed forest-savanna vegetation transition

Araújo, Felipe D.C., Tng, David Y.P., Apgaua, Deborah M.G., Coelho, Polyanne A., Pereira, Diego G.S., and Santos, Rubens M. (2017) Post-fire plant regeneration across a closed forest-savanna vegetation transition. Forest Ecology and Management, 400. pp. 77-84.

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Abstract

Fire is a major environmental factor influencing vegetation heterogeneity, with closed forest and savanna ecosystems having different management needs due to their different responses to fire disturbance. However, the differences in post-fire vegetation dynamics between these ecosystems have seldom been compared using a uniform set of parameters. Additionally, post-fire dynamics of forest-savanna ecotones is poorly characterized. With the hypothesis that closed forest, savannas and ecotones will exhibit different post-fire responses, we studied the vegetation diversity, structure and dynamics in an upland forest savanna vegetation mosaic in Minas Gerais, Brazil following a fire that occurred in September 2011. In January 2012, we identified, tagged, and measured the basal diameter of all regenerating juvenile tree stems within forty-six 4 m(2) plots in closed forest, savanna and ecotone vegetation, and conducted recensuses in 2013 and 2014. We modelled the relationship between short-term dynamics parameters (recruitment, mortality, basal area loss and gain, and the turnover and net changes in the number of individual stems and basal areas) and vegetation type. Species diversity was higher in closed forests and ecotones than in savanna. Across all vegetation types, stem density decreased and basal area increased. Parameters such as recruitment, net changes in the number of individuals, and the gain, loss and turnover in basal area did not differ across vegetation types. However, stem mortality was higher in closed forest and ecotones combined than in savannas, and the net change in the number of individuals was the lowest in the savanna. Overall, our results support that within a climatically-similar vegetation mosaic, closed forests exhibit different post-fire regeneration dynamics from savanna as expected. Ecotones exhibited post-fire responses and dynamics more similar to closed forests than to savanna, but more studies will be needed to establish if this pattern is applicable to other areas. Understanding the longer-term vegetation dynamics and plant regeneration patterns is a potential next step that will help inform fire management strategies for forest-savanna mosaics.

Item ID: 50595
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-7042
Keywords: alternative stable states, diversity, structural change, fire disturbance, forest-savanna ecotones, vegetation dynamics
Funders: Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), Australian Endeavour Fellowship, Schlumberger Foundation Faculty of the Future Fellowship
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:19
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050207 Environmental Rehabilitation (excl Bioremediation) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960603 Environmental Lifecycle Assessment @ 100%
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