Plant Ecology

, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 207–213

Effects of soil disturbance, fire and litter accumulation on the establishment of Cistus clusii seedlings

  • Francisco I. Pugnaire
  • Javier Lozano

DOI: 10.1023/A:1009779820845

Cite this article as:
Pugnaire, F.I. & Lozano, J. Plant Ecology (1997) 131: 207. doi:10.1023/A:1009779820845


Cistus clusii is an early successional shrub, the most drought-resistant species of Cistus which colonises perturbed areas in the southern Iberian Peninsula and regenerates entirely from seeds after a fire. Some of the factors controlling germination and seedling establishment were examined in a field experiment in which we tested the effect of soil disturbance, fire, and litter accumulation on seedling emergence. In a first experiment, soil disturbance and fire were applied to plots in the field with a factorial design in April 1992. In a second experiment, we measured the effect of adding C. clusii litter. The number of seedlings, annual plants and grasses, and the coverage of mosses were recorded in 1993 and 1994.

Soil disturbance increased the number of C. clusii seedlings almost seven-fold but did not change the number of grasses, annual plants nor moss cover. Fire significantly increased the number of C. clusii seedlings only in combination with soil disturbance, and it did not affect the presence of annuals, grasses nor moss cover. Litter increased the number of C. clusii seedlings in the following two years.

Overall, soil disturbance as a single factor had the most significant effect on seedling emergence, though plots disturbed and treated with fire had the highest number of seedlings, implying that germination of C. clusii seeds was enhanced by processes that alter the hard seed coat and break the physical dormancy imposed by the testa. In addition, recruitment of C. clusii was dependent on rainfall, as drought significantly reduced the number of seedlings appearing in winter.

Coloniser speciesDormancyDroughtFireImpermeable seeds coatsMediterranean climateSeed germinationTemperature fluctuations

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco I. Pugnaire
    • 1
  • Javier Lozano
    • 2
  1. 1.Estación Experimental de Zonas ÁridasAlmeríaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Edafología y Química AgrícolaUniversidad de AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain