Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 3035–3043 | Cite as

The invasion of Pteridium aquilinum and the impoverishment of the seed bank in fire prone areas of Brazilian Atlantic Forest

  • Úrsula Souza Rodrigues da de Silva
  • Dalva M. da Silva Matos


Several studies have documented that fires are widespread in the tropics. Because fire in the Atlantic Rain Forest is rare, fire events and their consequences at the community level have not been evaluated. This study describes the composition of different seed banks in areas of Atlantic Forest. The study was carried out in the National Park of Tijuca in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Four different areas were chosen considering their differences on fire history. Fifteen soil surface samples (23 cm (centimeter) diameter ×7 cm height at 5 cm deep) were obtained from random locations within each site. The dominant family at all study sites except in the most preserved one were Dennstaetiaceae, followed by Melastomataceae and Poaceae. The family Dennstaetiaceae was exclusively represented by Pteridium aquilinum (Klf.) Herter. There were no significant differences among areas when comparing the number of seedlings excluding P. aquilinum. However, the number of P. aquilinum was higher in the most disturbed area, while Melastomataceae and Rubiaceae were more frequent in a less impacted area. Our results suggest that the seed bank in disturbed areas of the Atlantic Forest possibly will not contribute for forest restoration after disturbance.


Bracken Fire Germination Seedbank composition Tropical forests 



Fundação Estadual de Engenharia do Meio Ambiente


Instituto Brasileiro para o Desenvolvimento Florestal


Secretaria Estadual do Meio Ambiente


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alonso-Amelot, M.E., Rodulfo-Baechler, S. 1996Comparative spatial distribution, sizebiomass and growth rate of two varieties of bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum L. Kuhn) in a neotropical montane habitatVegetatio125137147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auld, T.D. 1986Population dynamics of the shrub Acacia suaveolens (Sm) Willd.: dispersal and the dynamics of the soil seed bankAustralian Journal of Ecology11235254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Auld, T.D. 1987Population dynamics of the shrub Acacia suaveolens (Sm) Willd.: survivorship throughout the life cyclea synthesisAustralian Journal of Ecology12139151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baider, C., Tabarelli, M., Mantovabi, W. 2001The soil seed bank during Atlantic Forest regeneration in Southeast BrazilRevista Brasileira de Biologia613544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brinkmann, W.L.F., Vieira, A.N. 1971The effect of burning on the germination of seeds at different soil depths of various tropical tree speciesTurrialba217782Google Scholar
  6. Calvert G. 1998. Weeds – The silent invaders. In: Conference of the Society for Growing Australian Plants’ Queensland Region. Townsville28 June–5 July, 1998. Australian Plants ASGAP/APOL16/dec99-2.html.Google Scholar
  7. Cochrane, M.A. 2001Synergistic interactions between habitat fragmentation and fire in evergreen tropical forestsConservation Biology1515151521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cochrane, M.A., Schulze, M.D. 1998Forest fires in the Brazilian AmazonConservation Biology12948950Google Scholar
  9. Cochrane, M.A., Schulze, M.D. 1999Fire as a recurrent event in tropical forests of the eastern Amazon: effects on forest structurebiomass, and species compositionBiotropica31216Google Scholar
  10. Coelho Netto, A.L. 1985Surface Hydrology and Soil Erosion in a Tropical Mountainous Rain Forest Drainage Basin, Rio de JaneiroUniversiteit LeuvenLeuvenPh.D. ThesisGoogle Scholar
  11. Garwood, N.C. 1987Seed bank dynamics in tropical forestsAmerican Journal of Botany74635Google Scholar
  12. Garwood, N.C. 1989

    Tropical soil seed banks: a review

    Leck, M.A.Parker, V.T.Simpson, R.L. eds. Ecology of Soil Seed BanksAcademic Press Inc.California149209
    Google Scholar
  13. Gascon, C., Williamson, G.B., Fonseca, G.A.B. 2000Receding edges and vanishing fragmentsScience28813561358PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gross, L.L. 1990A comparasion of methods for estimating seed numbers in the soilJournal of Ecology7810791083CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hall, J.B., Swaine, M.D. 1980Seed stocks in Ghanian forests soilsBiotropica12256263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hubbel S.P. and Foster R.B. 1986. Canopy gaps and the dynamics of a neotropical forest. In: Crawley M.J. (ed.), Plant Ecology. Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publishers, pp. 97–136.Google Scholar
  17. Humphey, J.W., Swaine, M.P. 1997Factors affecting the natural regeneration of Quercus in Scottish oakwoods. I Competition from Pteridium aquilinum Journal of Applied Ecology34577584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. IBDF1981Plano de Manejo Parque Nacional da TijucaMinistério do Meio AmbienteFBCN3945Google Scholar
  19. Ito Junior, K. 1997Distribuição espacial da família Palmae em dois domínios hidroecológicos na bacia do alto Rio da CachoeiraPNT-RJMonografiaIG-UFRJRio de Janeiro103Google Scholar
  20. Johnson, P.N. 2001Vegetation recovery after fire on a southern New Zealand peatlandNew Zealand Journal of Botany39251267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lawton, R.O., Putz, F.E. 1993Natural disturbance and gap-phase regeneration in wind-exposed tropical cloud forestEcology69764777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Machado J.P. 1992. A Floresta da Tijuca. Rio de Janeiro, Editora aguiar, 183 p.Google Scholar
  23. Marrs, R.H., Johnsos, S.W., Le Duc, M.G. 1998Control of bracken and restoration of heathland. VI. The response of bracken fronds to 18 years of continued bracken control or 6 years of control followed by recoveryJournal of Applied Ecology35479490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Martins, R.P., Lewinsohn, T.M., Lawton, J.H. 1995First survey of insects feeding on Pteridium aquilinum in BrazilRevista Brasileira de Entomologia39151156Google Scholar
  25. Milberg, P. 1995Soil seed bank after eighteen years of succession from grassland to forestOIKOS72313Google Scholar
  26. Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., da Fonseca, G.A., Kent, J. 2000Biodiversity hotspots for conservation prioritiesNature403853858PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Oliveira, R.R., Lacerda, L.D. 1988Contaminação por chumbo na serrapilheira do Parque Nacional da Tijuca – RJActa Botânica BrasílicaI165169Google Scholar
  28. Oliveira, R.R., Zaú, A.S., Lima, M.B.R., Vianna, M.C., Sodré, D.O., Sampaio, P.D. 1995

    Significado ecológico da orientação de encostas no maciço da TijucaRio de Janeiro

    Esteves, F.A. eds. Oecologia Brasiliensis IUFRJRio de Janeiro523541
    Google Scholar
  29. Pakeman, R.J., Marrs, R.H. 1992The conservation value of bracken Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn-dominated communities in the UK, and an assessment of the ecological impact of bracken expansion or its removalBiological Conservation62101114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Peres, C.A. 1999Ground fires as agents of mortality in a Central Amazonian forestJournal of Tropical Ecology15535541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Probert, R.J. 1992

    The role of temperature in germination ecophysiology

    Fenner, M. eds. The Ecology of Regeneration in Plant CommunitiesC.A.B. InternationalUK285325
    Google Scholar
  32. Putz, F.E., Appanah, B. 1987Buried seeds, newly dispersed seeds, and the dynamics of a lowland forest in MalaysiaBiotropica19326339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Roberts, H.A. 1981Seed banks in soilAdvances in Applied Biology6155Google Scholar
  34. SEMA 1991. Tombamento da Serra do Mar/Mata Atlântica. Governo do Esta do Rio de Janeiro, 38 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Silva Matos D.M., Fonseca G.D.F.M. and Silva-Lima L. Differences on post-fire regeneration of the pioneers Cecropia glazioui Trema micrantha in a lowland Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Revista de Biologia Tropical, Revista de Biologia Tropical 53: 1–4.Google Scholar
  36. Silva Matos, D.M., Santos, C.J., Chevalier, D.R. 2002Fire and restoration of the largest urban forest of the world in Rio de Janeiro City, BrazilUrban Ecosystem6151161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Snow, C.S.R., Marrs, R.H. 1997Restoration of Calluna heathland on a bracken Pteridium-infested site in North West EnglandBiological Conservation813542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. SOS Mata AtlanticaINPE eds2002Atlas dos Remanescentes Florestais da Mata Atlântica no Período 1995–2000Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica and Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas EspaciaisSão PauloGoogle Scholar
  39. Swaine, M.D., Hall, J.B. 1983Early succession on cleared forest land in GhanaJournal of Ecology71601627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Swaine, M.D., Whitmore, T.C. 1988On the definition of ecological species groups in tropical rain forestsVegetatio758186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thompson, K. 1992

    The functional ecology of seed banks

    Fenner, M. eds. The Ecology of Regeneration in Plant CommunitiesC.A.B InternationalUK231257
    Google Scholar
  42. Watt, A.S. 1940Contributions to the ecology of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) I. The rhizomeNew Phytologist39401411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Whelan, R. 1995The Ecology of FireCambridge University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Whitmore, T.C. 1990An Introduction to Tropical Rain ForestsBlackwellLondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Zar, J.H. 1984Biostatistical Analysis (2nd edn)Prentice Hall Inc.Englewood Cliffs, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Úrsula Souza Rodrigues da de Silva
    • 1
  • Dalva M. da Silva Matos
    • 2
  1. 1.Depto de Ciências NaturaisUniversidade do Rio de JaneiroUrca, Rio de Janeiro (RJ)Brazil
  2. 2.Depto de BotânicaUniversidade Federal de São Carlos, São Carlos (SP)Brazil

Personalised recommendations