Drivers of persistent post-fire recruitment in European beech forests

Maringer, Janet, Wohlgemuth, Thomas, Hacket-Pain, Andrew, Ascoli, Davide, Berretti, Roberta and Conedera, Marco
(2020) Drivers of persistent post-fire recruitment in European beech forests. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 699. 134006-.

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Climate change is expected to alter disturbance regimes including fires in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests. Regarding the resilience of beech forests to fire it is questionable whether seeds of this non-serotinous obligate masting seeder find advantageous conditions in a post-fire environment. The probability of recruitment success has been shown to increase when fire coincides with a mast year. However, the fire-induced recruitment window is poorly defined, and it is unclear how other interacting factors influence its duration. We used a space-for-time approach to model the relationships between post-fire beech recruitment, timing of seed mast events, and interacting environmental conditions using a zero-inflated model. Our results show that recruitment peaks 5-12 years after a fire, and continues throughout three decades post-fire. Beech recruitment in the post-fire period is driven by mast intensity interacting with (i) canopy opening as a consequence of progressive post-fire tree mortality and (ii) coverages of competing ground vegetation. Spring-summer moisture showed a weak positive effect on beech recruitment. We conclude that fires increase light availability, which in coincidence with a mast event results in pulses of beech recruitment. The delayed post-fire mortality of beech creates a recruitment window lasting for up to three decades, resulting in a higher-than-expected resilience of beech to individual fire disturbances.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fagus sylvatica, Mast years, European Alps, Burn severity, Disturbance regime, Forest regeneration
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2019 15:26
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 00:26
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134006
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