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Title

Tanned or burned: The role of fire in shaping physical seed dormancy

AuthorsMoreira, Bruno ; Pausas, J. G.
KeywordsDormancy
Fire
Germination
Heat shock
Mediterranean
Seed
Issue DateDec-2012
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 7(12): e51523 (2012)
AbstractPlant species with physical seed dormancy are common in mediterranean fire-prone ecosystems. Because fire breaks seed dormancy and enhances the recruitment of many species, this trait might be considered adaptive in fire-prone environments. However, to what extent the temperature thresholds that break physical seed dormancy have been shaped by fire (i.e., for post-fire recruitment) or by summer temperatures in the bare soil (i.e., for recruitment in fire-independent gaps) remains unknown. Our hypothesis is that the temperature thresholds that break physical seed dormancy have been shaped by fire and thus we predict higher dormancy lost in response to fire than in response to summer temperatures. We tested this hypothesis in six woody species with physical seed dormancy occurring in fire-prone areas across the Mediterranean Basin. Seeds from different populations of each species were subject to heat treatments simulating fire (i.e., a single high temperature peak of 100uC, 120uC or 150uC for 5 minutes) and heat treatments simulating summer (i.e., temperature fluctuations; 30 daily cycles of 3 hours at 31uC, 4 hours at 43uC, 3 hours at 33uC and 14 hours at 18uC). Fire treatments broke dormancy and stimulated germination in all populations of all species. In contrast, summer treatments had no effect over the seed dormancy for most species and only enhanced the germination in Ulex parviflorus, although less than the fire treatments. Our results suggest that in Mediterranean species with physical dormancy, the temperature thresholds necessary to trigger seed germination are better explained as a response to fire than as a response to summer temperatures. The high level of dormancy release by the heat produced by fire might enforce most recruitment to be capitalized into a single post-fire pulse when the most favorable conditions occur. This supports the important role of fire in shaping seed traits.
Description8 páginas, 3 figuras, 3 tablas.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051523
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/62310
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0051523
ISSN1932-6203
E-ISSN1932-6203
Appears in Collections:(CIDE) Artículos
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