Publication Details

Auld, T. D. & Ooi, M. K.J. (2008). Applying seed germination studies in fire management for biodiversity conservation in south-eastern Australia.. Web Ecology, 8 (1), 47-54.


We examine the patterns of germination response to fire in the fire-prone flora of the Sydney basin, south-eastern Australia, using examples from several decades of research. The flora shows a strong response to fire-related germination cues. Most species show an interaction between heat and smoke, a number respond only to heat, whilst a few are likely to respond only to smoke. Many recruit in the first 12 months after fire and show no obvious seasonal patterns of recruitment, whilst several species have a strong seasonal germination requirement, even in this essentially aseasonal rainfall region. Key challenges remaining include designing future seed germination studies within the context of informing the germination response surface to smoke and heat interactions, and incorporation of the impact of varying soil moisture on seed germination post-fire, including its affect on resetting of seed dormancy. An understanding of the resilience of species to frequent fire also requires further work, to identify species and functional types most at risk. This work must ideally be integrated within the framework of the management of fire regimes that will change under a changing climate. We suggest that the functional classification of plant types in relation to fire could be enhanced by a consideration of both the type of germination response to fire (type of cues required) and the timing of the response (seasonally driven in response to seed dormancy characteristics, or independent of season). We provide a simplified version of such an addition to functional trait classification in relation to fire.