The seed bank in Pinus stand regeneration in NW Spain after wildfire

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Abstract

In the Cantabrian area (northwest Spain) Pinus stands occupy many of the original shrub communities that have been considered unproductive. These Pinus stands represent the vegetation which is most affected by fire. Regeneration after fire may occur in different ways: by resprouting or by germination or both. Germination was the only regeneration mechanism in Pinus species that appeared in these areas. The aim of this study is to determine the role of the soil seed bank in regeneration in this type ecosystem. In order to carry out the study, three communities dominated by Pinus sylvestris which had suffered wildfires were chosen. In each of the three experimental sites of Pinus sylvestris stands the seed bank composition and above-ground vegetation were studied. The results allowed three species groups in the seed bank to be differentiated: those favoured by fire, amongst which some hardseeds, mainly belonging to Cistaceae and Leguminosae, were found; another group formed by outsider or opportunist species from outside the community and which used anemochory as their main dispersion mechanism; and the third group formed by those negatively affected, amongst which were species using vegetative resprout as the main regeneration mechanism. The species of greatest quantitave importance in the seed bank was Erica australis. In general, anemochorous species were predominant in the soil seed bank. During the first stages of succession chamaephytes were dominant and in the two years after fire therophytes were. No great similarity was observed between the bank composition and field vegetation from a qualitative viewpoint, due to differences in the presence of seeds of outsider plants in the bank and to the significance of the resprouting species in the ield.

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Valbuena, L., Nuñez, R., & Calvo, L. (2001). The seed bank in Pinus stand regeneration in NW Spain after wildfire. Web Ecology, 2, 22–31. https://doi.org/10.5194/we-2-22-2001

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