Long-term post-fire vegetation dynamics in Pinus halepensis forests of Central Greece: A functional group approach
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- Kazanis, D. & Arianoutsou, M. Plant Ecology (2004) 171: 101. doi:10.1023/B:VEGE.0000029376.15741.b4
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A hierarchical approach for plant functional classification was applied to describe long-term vegetation change in Pinus halepensis burned forests. Plant species were initially grouped according to their growth form and afterwards data on species modes of regeneration, persistence and dispersal, together with some other specific competitive advantages were explored, resulting in the identification of 29 different functional groups, 14 for woody and 15 for herbaceous species. Three types of Pinus halepensis forests were identified, according to the structure of the understorey. For each forest type, a post-fire chronosequence of communities was selected for sampling. Data sampling was performed for at least two consecutive years in each community, so as to reduce the shortcomings of the synchronic approach and to increase the age range of each chronosequence. Even though the vast majority of the functional groups proved to be persistent throughout the post-fire development of vegetation, their species richness and abundance did not remain stable. An increase of annual herb richness and abundance was recorded in the first years after the fire, with the leguminous species forming the dominant functional group. For perennial herbs, the most abundant group was of species with vivid lateral growth, while the group of species with subterranean resource organs included the highest number of species. Finally, as far as the woody species are concerned, the groups that played the most important role in defining vegetation structure were the mono-specific group of the pine, the group of resprouting sclerophyllous tall shrubs and the group of obligate seeder short shrubs (with Cistusspp., among others). A negative relationship between the abundance of woody obligate resprouters and the regeneration of woody obligate seeders was found. The advantage of the proposed functional group approach over classical floristic or structural approaches for the long-term study of communities is discussed, together with the applicability of this approach in studies of vegetation risk assessments due to fire regime alterations.