Advertisement

Plant Ecology

, Volume 215, Issue 11, pp 1233–1243 | Cite as

Shrub recovery after fuel reduction treatments and a subsequent fire in a Spanish heathland

  • Cristina FernándezEmail author
  • José A. Vega
Article

Abstract

Fuel reduction treatments are commonly used nowadays to reduce wildfire hazard in northwestern Spain. Although prescribed fire has been widely used as a fuel reduction treatment, comparison with mechanical methods is scarce. In this study, we compared the effects of prescribed burning, clearing and mechanical shredding on shrub cover recovery, relative to untreated mature vegetation, in a heathland dominated by Erica umbellata Loefl. (L.) in Galicia (NW Spain). The fuel reduction treatments were applied in the spring of 2006, and the area was burned by an experimental fire in the spring of 2009. We evaluated shrub recovery, in comparison with an untreated control, after application of the above-mentioned fuel reduction treatments and also after an experimental fire 3 years later. Shrub cover and height remained lower than in the untreated control during the 3 years after application of the treatments, and the effects of the different treatments were not significantly different. The treatments did not affect species richness or seedling density during the 3-year interval. After the experimental fire, the only significant effect observed was an increase in grass cover in the areas treated by mechanical shredding and by prescribed fire relative to the control (untreated area); this effect lasted until the end of the study. Some consequences for management of this type of heathland are also discussed.

Keywords

Prescribed burning Clearing Mechanical shredding Resprouting Erica Ulex Pterospartum Halimium 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The study was funded by the National Institute of Agricultural Research of Spain (INIA) through projects RTA 2005-00244-C02-01 and RTA2011-00065-C02-01, cofunded by FEDER. Financial support from the Plan de Mejora e Innovación Forestal de Galicia (2010–2020) is also gratefully acknowledged. We thank Antonio Arellano for valuable field assistance at all stages of the experimental work. We also thank all those who helped with fieldwork, particularly José Ramón González, Jesús Pardo, José Gómez and Alba Martínez, and Elena Pérez for help with databases. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

References

  1. Bond WJ, van Wilgen BW (1996) Fire and plants. Springer-Verlag, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bradstock RA, Bedward M, Kenny BJ, Scott J (1998) Spatially-explicit simulation of the effect of prescribed burning on fire regimes and plant extinctions in shrublands typical of south-eastern Australia. Biol Conserv 86(1):83–95. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(97)00170-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burton J, Hallgren S, Fuhlendorf S, Leslie D Jr (2011) Understory response to varying fire frequencies after 20 years of prescribed burning in an upland oak forest. Plant Ecol 212(9):1513–1525. doi: 10.1007/s11258-011-9926-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Calvo L, Tarrega R, de Luis E (1998) Space-time distribution patterns of shape Erica australis L. subsp. shape aragonensis (Willk) after experimental burning, cutting, and ploughing. Plant Ecol 137(1):1–12. doi: 10.1023/a:1009732722644 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Calvo L, Tarrega R, Luis E (2002) Regeneration patterns in a Calluna vulgaris heathland in the Cantabrian mountains (NW Spain): effects of burning, cutting and ploughing. Acta Oecologica 23(2):81–90. doi: 10.1016/S1146-609X(02)01137-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Calvo L, Tárrega R, Luis E, Valbuena L, Marcos E (2005) Recovery after experimental cutting and burning in three shrub communities with different dominant species. Plant Ecol 180(2):175–185. doi: 10.1007/s11258-005-0200-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Core Team Development R (2013) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  8. Cotton DE, Hale WHG (1994) Effectiveness of cutting as an alternative to burning in the management of Calluna vulgaris Moorland: results of an experimental field trial. J Enviro Manag 40(2):155–159. doi: 10.1006/jema.1994.1011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cruz A, Pérez B, Moreno JM (2003) Resprouting of the Mediterranean-type shrub Erica australis with modified lignotuber carbohydrate content. J Ecol 91(3):348–356. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2745.2003.00770.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davies MG, Gray A, Hamilton A, Legg CJ (2008) The future of fire management in the British uplands. Int J Biodivers Sci Manag 4(3):127–147. doi: 10.3843/Biodiv.4.3:1 Google Scholar
  11. Davies MG, Smith AA, MacDonald AJ, Bakker JD, Legg CJ (2010) Fire intensity, fire severity and ecosystem response in heathlands: factors affecting the regeneration of Calluna vulgaris. J Appl Ecol 47(2):356–365. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01774.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Díaz-Vizcaíno E, García O, Iglesia A (2002) Comparative study of the short-term post-fire recovery of some scrub communities in the Eurosiberian-Mediterranean transition zone of the Northwest Iberian Peninsula. In: Trabaud L, Prodon R (eds) Fire and biological processes. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, pp 57–67Google Scholar
  13. Duff TJ, Bell TL, York A (2013) Managing multiple species or communities? Considering variation in plant species abundances in response to fire interval, frequency and time since fire in a heathy Eucalyptus woodland. For Ecol Manag 289:393–403. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2012.10.032 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ellsworth JW, Harrington RA, Fownes JH (2004) Seedling emergence, growth, and allocation of oriental bittersweet: effects of seed input, seed bank and forest floor litter. For Ecol Manag 190:255–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Enright NJ, Fontaine JB, Westcott VC, Lade JC, Miller BP (2011) Fire interval effects on persistence of resprouter species in Mediterranean-type shrublands. Plant Ecol 212(12):2071–2083. doi: 10.1007/s11258-011-9970-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eugenio M, Lloret F (2006) Effects of repeated burning on Mediterranean communities of the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. J Veg Sci 17(6):755–764. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2006.tb02499.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. FAO (1998) Soil map of the World. FAO-UNESCO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  18. Fernandes PM, Davies GM, Ascoli D, Fernández C, Moreira F, Rigolot E, Stoof CR, Vega JA, Molina D (2013) Prescribed burning in southern Europe: developing fire management in a dynamic landscape. Front Ecol Environ 11(s1):e4–e14. doi: 10.1890/120298 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fernández C, Vega JA, Fonturbel T (2013a) Does fire severity influence shrub resprouting after spring prescribed burning? Acta Oecologica 48:30–36. doi: 10.1016/j.actao.2013.01.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fernández C, Vega JA, Fonturbel T (2013b) Effects of fuel reduction treatments on a gorse shrubland soil seed bank in the north of Spain: comparing mastication and prescribed burning. Ecol Eng 57:79–87. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2013.04.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fernández C, Vega JA, Fonturbel T (2013c) Fuel reduction at a Spanish heathland by prescribed fire and mechanical shredding: effects on seedling emergence. J Environ Manag 129:621–627. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.08.034 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fernández C, Vega JA, Fonturbel T (2013d) Shrub resprouting response after fuel reduction treatments: comparison of prescribed burning, clearing and mastication. J Environ Manag 117:235–241. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.01.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Franklin J, Syphard AD, Mladenoff DJ, He HS, Simons DK, Martin RP, Deutschman D, O’Leary JF (2001) Simulating the effects of different fire regimes on plant functional groups in Southern California. Ecol Model 142(3):261–283. doi: 10.1016/S0304-3800(01)00286-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grime JP (2002) Plant strategies, vegetation processes, and ecosystem properties, 2nd edn. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  25. Hancock MH, Amphlett A, Proctor R, Dugan D, Willi J, Harvey P, Summers RW (2011) Burning and mowing as habitat management for capercaillie Tetrao urogallus: an experimental test. For Ecol Manag 262(3):509–521. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.04.019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kent M, Coker P (1992) Vegetation description and analysis: a practical approach. Belhaven Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Legg CJ, Maltby E, Proctor MCF (1992) The ecology of severe moorland fire on the North York moors: seed distribution and seedling establishment of Calluna vulgaris. J Ecol 80(4):737–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lloret F, López-Soria L (1993) Resprouting of Erica multiflora after experimental fire treatments. J Veg Sci 4(3):367–374. doi: 10.2307/3235595 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lloret F, Pausas J, Vilà M (2003) Responses of Mediterranean plant species to different fire frequencies in Garraf Natural Park (Catalonia, Spain): field observations and modelling predictions. Plant Ecol 167(2):223–235. doi: 10.1023/a:1023911031155 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mallik AU, Gimimgham CH (1985) Ecological effects of heather burning, II. Effects on seed germination and vegetative regeneration. J Ecol 73:633–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marcos E, Tárrega R, Luis-calabuig E (2004) Interactions between mediterranean shrub species eight years after experimental fire. Plant Ecol 170(2):235–241. doi: 10.1023/B:VEGE.0000021680.90279.bc CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. MMA (2010) Los incendios forestales en España. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, MadridGoogle Scholar
  33. Paula S, Ojeda F (2006) Resistance of three co-occurring resprouter Erica species to highly frequent disturbance. Plant Ecol 183(2):329–336. doi: 10.1007/s11258-005-9043-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Paula S, Pausas JG (2008) Burning seeds: germinative response to heat treatments in relation to resprouting ability. J Ecol 96:543–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Peterson CJ, Facelli J (1992) Contrasting germination and seedling growth of Betula alleghaniensis and Rhus typhina subjected to various amounts and types of plant litter. Am J Bot 79:1209–1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Peterson DW, Reich PB (2001) Prescribed fire in oak savanna: fire frequency effects on stand structure and dynamics. Ecol Appl 11(3):914–927. doi: 10.1890/1051-0761(2001) 011[0914:pfiosf]2.0.co;2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Peterson D, Reich P (2008) Fire frequency and tree canopy structure influence plant species diversity in a forest-grassland ecotone. Plant Ecol 194(1):5–16. doi: 10.1007/s11258-007-9270-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Potts JB, Stephens SL (2009) Invasive and native plant responses to shrubland fuel reduction: comparing prescribed fire, mastication, and treatment season. Biol Conserv 142:1657–1664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Potts JB, Marino E, Stephens SL (2010) Chaparral shrub recovery after fuel reduction: a comparison of prescribed fire and mastication techniques. Plant Ecol 210:303–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Reyes O, Casal M (2008) Regeneration models and plant regenerative types related to the intensity of fire in Atlantic shrubland and woodland species. J Veg Sci 19(4):575–583. doi: 10.3170/2008-8-18412 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schimmel J, Granstrom A (1996) Fire severity and vegetation response in the Boreal Swedish Forest. Ecology 77(5):1436–1450. doi: 10.2307/2265541 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Syphard AD, Franklin J, Keeley JE (2006) Simulating the effects of frequent fire on Southern California coastal shrublands. Ecol Appl 16(5):1744–1756. doi: 10.1890/1051-0761(2006) 016[1744:steoff]2.0.co;2PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. van Andel J (2006) Species interactions structuring plant communities. In: van der Maarel E (ed) Vegetation ecology. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  44. Vega JA, Cuiñas P, Fonturbel T, Fernández C (2000) Planificar la prescripción para reducir combustibles y disminuir el impacto sobre el suelo en las quemas prescritas. Cuadernos de la SECF 9:189–198Google Scholar
  45. Vilà M, Lloret F, Ogheri E, Terradas J (2001) Positive fire–grass feedback in Mediterranean Basin woodlands. For Ecol Manag 147(1):3–14. doi: 10.1016/S0378-1127(00)00435-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vilá-Cabrera A, Saura-Mas S, Lloret F (2008) Effects of fire frequency on species composition in a Mediterranean shrubland. Ecoscience 15(4):519–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wittkuhn RS, McCaw L, Wills AJ, Robinson R, Andersen AN, Van Heurck P, Farr J, Liddelow G, Cranfield R (2011) Variation in fire interval sequences has minimal effects on species richness and composition in fire-prone landscapes of south-west Western Australia. For Ecol Manag 261(6):965–978. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2010.10.037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wright BR, Clarke PJ (2007) Resprouting responses of Acacia shrubs in the Western Desert of Australia—fire severity, interval and season influence survival. Int J Wildland Fire 16(3):317–323. doi: 10.1071/WF06094 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zammit CA, Zedler PH (1988) The influence of dominant shrubs, fire, and time since fire on soil seed bank in mixed chaparral. Vegetatio 75:175–187Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigación Forestal-LourizánXunta de GaliciaPontevedraSpain

Personalised recommendations