Hydrobiologia

, Volume 719, Issue 1, pp 353–382 | Cite as

Fire as a disturbance in mediterranean climate streams

  • Iraima Verkaik
  • Maria Rieradevall
  • Scott D. Cooper
  • John M. Melack
  • Tom L. Dudley
  • Narcís Prat
MEDITERRANEAN CLIMATE STREAMS Review Paper

Abstract

Mediterranean climate ecosystems are among the most fire-prone in the world; however, little is known about the effects of fire on mediterranean streams (med-streams). Fire impacts on med-streams are associated with increased runoff and erosion from severely burned landscapes during storms, particularly the first intense rains. Increased inputs of water, solutes, nutrients, sediment, organic matter, and ash to streams after fires are usually observed for months to up to 4 years. Return to pre-fire conditions is associated with vegetation recovery. Benthic algae, invertebrates, and fish are reduced to low levels by scouring floods after wildfire. If riparian zones are burned, benthic algae increase, and invertebrate communities become dominated by r-strategist species. Fishes are eradicated from reaches affected by intense wildfire and often do not re-colonize quickly because of downstream barriers. In general, med-stream communities appear to be more resilient to fire compared to streams in other ecosystems because of the rapid recovery of mediterranean upland and riparian vegetation and geomorphological conditions (1–4 years in med-streams vs 5–10 years in non-med streams). However, drought or mass sediment movements after fire can prolong fire effects. Studies of the long-term effects of fire and the consequences of fire management practices are still needed.

Keywords

Fire Mediterranean streams Mediterranean ecosystems 

Supplementary material

10750_2013_1463_MOESM1_ESM.docx (762 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 762 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iraima Verkaik
    • 1
  • Maria Rieradevall
    • 1
  • Scott D. Cooper
    • 2
  • John M. Melack
    • 2
  • Tom L. Dudley
    • 3
  • Narcís Prat
    • 1
  1. 1.Grup de Recerca F.E.M. (Freshwater Ecology and Management), Departament d’EcologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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