- Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Risberg, Lotta; Granström, Anders
We analyzed critical life-history variables for two rare fire-dependent annual Geranium species in southern Sweden, which are today threatened because of effective fire suppression. At recently burned sites with abundant recruitment, seedlings occurred only where the humus layer had been completely removed by smoldering fire. Emergence depths ranged 1-6 cm in the mineral soil. Soil sampling at four sites revealed that in unburned soil Geranium seeds were located only in the mineral soil. Surprisingly, residual seeds were still present where fire had burned away the humus layer. An experiment showed that both species deposit seeds relatively evenly within a radius of 5-6 m, through ballistic dispersal. Repeated sampling in the field over a 2-year period after seed dispersal at one site indicated a low rate of seed depletion, corroborated by an indoor incubation of seeds. Our results show that successful management of these species depend on deep-burning prescribed fire, which can only result after severe drought. On the other hand, the seed bank is extremely long-lived, as viable seeds were present at a site last burned 200 years ago. This well-protected seed bank will likely buffer against both ill-timed fires and occasional failure in the recruiting seedling populations.
Geranium bohemicum; Geranium lanuginosum; seed bank; heat triggered; fire regime
2012, Volume: 90, number: 9, pages: 794-805
Publisher: CANADIAN SCIENCE PUBLISHING, NRC RESEARCH PRESS