Publication Details

Denham, A. J., Whelan, R. J. & Auld, T. D. (2009). Characterizing the litter in postfire environments: implications for seedling recruitment. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 170 (1), 53-60.


Litter accumulation after fire influences the magnitude of seed predation and seed germination. How litter accumulation and patchiness influence postfire seedling recruitment is poorly known. Species with persistent seed banks have seeds available for germination in the immediate postfire period. In contrast, plants with transient seed banks must flower after fire to place seeds in the postfire habitat. In southeastern Australian sclerophyll forests, most seedling recruitment occurs within 3 yr after fire. We found that less litter had accumulated in sites mass, including some species with very light seeds. In contrast, the seed mass of transient seed bank species is less variable, with the lightest species more than 70 times heavier than the lightest persistent seed bank species. These seeds arrive 1-3 yr postfire and encounter habitats with more litter and fewer bare patches. This pattern suggests that litter accumulation after fire has influenced the evolution of seed mass either directly, by affecting germination and seedling survival, or indirectly, by affecting seed predators.



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