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Simulating Mediterranean landscape pattern and vegetation dynamics under different fire regimes

by Juli G. Pausas
Plant Ecology ()
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Abstract  In the Mediterranean Basin, landscape patterns are strongly human-modified. In recent decades, because of industrialisation and rural exodus, many fields have been abandoned, generating changes in the landscape pattern. In this framework, I aim to study the effect of landscape pattern on landscape dynamic processes in the Mediterranean Basin using simulation models and considering that fire may interact with landscape pattern. First I generate a gradient of five artificial random landscapes. In each landscape I include four species types growing in the Mediterranean Basin, each type with different plant traits (Quercus, Pinus, Erica and Cistus types). In each landscape scenario, each species covers 30% of the landscape but with a different spatial distribution, from the coarsest-grained (L1) to the finest-grained (L5). Then, the dynamics of each of these five landscapes were simulated for 100 years using the FATELAND simulation model. Simulations were run with six fire regime scenarios in each landscape scenario (no fire, mean fire interval of 80, 40, 20, 10 and 5 years). Landscape attributes were computed for the initial and the final landscapes. As expected, the results suggest that, as expected, some species increase and others decrease depending on the fire regime. However, the results also show that different landscape structures produce different dynamics and thus that there is a clear interaction between landscape pattern and fire regime. For instance, coarse-grained spatial patterns generate slower dynamics than fine-grained patterns, and fire-sensitive species are maintained longer under coarse-grained patterns (i.e., fragmentation accelerates extinction of fire-sensitive species).

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