Publication Details

Penman, T. D. & Towerton, A. L. (2008). Soil temperatures during autumn prescribed burning: implications for the germination of fire responsive species?. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 17 572-578.


Prescribed fire is a widely applied management tool in native forests. There have been concerns raised about the ecological impacts of prescribed fire on native flora. One aspect of the debate is the extent towhich prescribed fire heats the soil to levels reported to trigger germination in the soil seed banks.We used Thermochrons to test soil temperatures at 2 and 5 cm in prescribed burns in dry sclerophyll forests. Soil temperatures during the burns were generally low (<40◦C) with less than 5% of sites being exposed to temperatures necessary for the germination of fire-dependent shrub species. High temperatures were associated with high fuel consumption and large woody debris. This information suggests that prescribed fires, carried out according to standard practices, in these forests are unlikely to trigger germination in the majority of the soil-stored seed banks. If ecological burns in these forests are aimed at promoting populations of senescing obligate seeder species, they need to be hotter than standard practice if they are to achieve their objectives, although we acknowledge that there are inherent risks associated with hotter burns.



Link to publisher version (DOI)