The dynamic regeneration niche of a forest following a rare disturbance event

Smith, Annabel L., Blanchard, Wade, Blair, David P., McBurney, Lachlan, Banks, Sam C., Driscoll, Don A. and Lindenmayer, David B. 2016, The dynamic regeneration niche of a forest following a rare disturbance event, Diversity and distributions: a journal of conservation biogeography, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 457-467, doi: 10.1111/ddi.12414.

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Title The dynamic regeneration niche of a forest following a rare disturbance event
Author(s) Smith, Annabel L.
Blanchard, Wade
Blair, David P.
McBurney, Lachlan
Banks, Sam C.
Driscoll, Don A.ORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A.
Lindenmayer, David B.
Journal name Diversity and distributions: a journal of conservation biogeography
Volume number 22
Issue number 4
Start page 457
End page 467
Total pages 11
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2016-04
ISSN 1472-4642
Keyword(s) climate change,
ecological disturbance,
fire management,
forest conservation,
obligate seeder,
ontogenetic niche shifts.
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Biodiversity Conservation
Biodiversity & Conservation
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
climate change
ecological disturbance
fire management
forest conservation
obligate seeder
ontogenetic niche shifts
Summary Aim: Knowledge of how climate and fire regimes affect regeneration in foundation species is critical to the conservation of entire ecosystems. Different stages of regeneration often require different ecological conditions, but dynamic constraints on regeneration are poorly known for species that regenerate only after infrequent wildfires. Focussing on a long-lived, foundation tree species (Eucalyptus regnans), we tested the hypothesis that the relative importance of fire regime variables (fire severity and time since previous fire) and environmental gradients on post-fire regeneration would shift as seedlings developed. Location: South-eastern Australia. Methods: Following a large (> 59,000 ha) summer wildfire in 2009, we sampled 131 sites (61 burnt) annually for four years (2009-2012), representing the range of environmental conditions in which E. regnans occurs. We analysed the effect of fire severity, time since fire and environmental variables on early regeneration processes critical for post-fire species distributions: seedling establishment, seedling density and growth through different height stages (10 cm, 25 cm, 50 cm and 200 cm). Results: The regeneration niche of E. regnans was defined by different factors at different stages of development. Initially, seedlings established prolifically on burnt sites, regardless of severity. Three years into the regeneration process, high-severity fire became the dominant driver of seedling persistence and growth over 25 cm. Growth over 50 cm was dependent on environmental conditions relating to elevation and precipitation. Main conclusions: Our results describe how fire occurrence, fire severity and environmental gradients affected seedling establishment, persistence and growth. The dynamic constraints on regeneration likely reflect temporal changes in the biotic and abiotic environment and variation in resource requirements during the early post-fire years. Our findings will enable more accurate forecasts of species distributions to assist forest conservation in the face of global changes in climate and fire regimes.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/ddi.12414
Field of Research 050207 Environmental Rehabilitation (excl Bioremediation)
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
05 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Wiley
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