, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 29-36

Regeneration of N.W. African Pinus halepensis forests following fire

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Abstract

Pinus halepensis forests of N.W. Algeria are subjected to frequent fires. During the fire the aboveground parts of plants are completely burned but only a few species are killed. Most perennial herb and shrub species survive owing to their underground organs and regenerate vegetatively in the next moist period. The semi-shrubs regenerate both vegetatively and from seeds. The most intensive growth of the shrub layer occurs during the first 2 years and in the 5th year, it reaches a height of 1–1.5 m. Pinus halepensis is completely killed by the fire and it regenerates from seeds only. The regeneration is retarded during the first 2–3 years, apparently by competition of the rapidly developing shrubs and semi-shrubs with P. halepensis. In the following years, there is a more rapid increase in both density and height, although by the 5th year after fire, the height does not exceed 0.5 m. The young trees overtop the shrub layer between 10 and 15 years after fire. The increase in density and cover supress the lower layers, in particular the herb layer. The reduction in density of trees in the following decades enables the herb layer to reconstitute its composition and cover.

This process of regeneration resembles forest growth cycles rather than a secondary succession. The shrub and herb layers maintain their identity as they are mostly formed of the same individuals as before the fire; they merely regenerated their aboveground organs. Only the tree layer regenerates anew after the fire.