, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 1095–1104 | Cite as

Isotopic and anatomical signals for interpreting fire-related responses in Pinus halepensis

  • Giovanna Battipaglia
  • Veronica De Micco
  • Thomas Fournier
  • Giovanna Aronne
  • Christopher Carcaillet
Original Paper


Key message

Our study aims to define isotopic and anatomical responses to fires of P. halepensis . Main results: decrease in tree growth and relative conductivity and increase in water use efficiency.


We investigated the ecophysiological responses of a Pinus halepensis Mill. stand surviving two wildfires in southern France. Basal area, isotope composition and anatomical traits were analysed before and after fires, using tree rings to assess the ecological responses of trees to heat-related damage. The years were determined based on the presence of fire scars. Stable isotopes (δ13C and δ18O) were measured in tree rings before and after the “fire years”. Anatomical observations allowed qualitative analysis of the scar region and quantification of tracheid size in tree rings before and after the fire years. Relative and percentage conductivity of earlywood and latewood far from the woundwood were estimated. Results showed a decrease in tree growth after the fire events accompanied by an increase in 13C-derived water use efficiency (WUEi) and a decrease in relative conductivity. The positive relationship between δ13C and δ18O suggested that both isotopic variations are mostly driven by changes in stomatal conductance following fire events. P. halepensis proved to be a strong isohydric species, able to survive frequent fires with temporary ecophysiological modifications and anatomical adaptations. Our findings afford new insights into post-fire survival strategies of this species in an environment where fires are predicted to increase in frequency during the twenty-first century.


Fire Quantitative wood anatomy Tree rings Water use efficiency δ18δ13



The authors thank B. Brossier and the CBAE team for assistance in the field, and E. Zalloni and A. Balzano for their help in anatomical measurements. The fieldwork and the PhD grant to TF was supported by the FIREMAN programme (ANR/ERA-net BiodivERsA, Grant No. ANR-08-BDVA-0004) granted to CC. This research is linked to activities conducted within the COST FP1106 ‘STReESS’ network.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanna Battipaglia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Veronica De Micco
    • 3
  • Thomas Fournier
    • 2
  • Giovanna Aronne
    • 3
  • Christopher Carcaillet
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and TechnologiesSecond University of NaplesCasertaItaly
  2. 2.Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (PALECO EPHE)Centre for Bio-Archaeology and Ecology, Institut de BotaniqueMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural and Food SciencesUniversity of Naples Federico IIPortici (Naples)Italy

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