Plant Ecology

, Volume 220, Issue 11, pp 1057–1069 | Cite as

Germination response of woody species to laboratory-simulated fire severity and airborne nitrogen deposition: a post-fire recovery strategy perspective

  • Luz ValbuenaEmail author
  • Angela Taboada
  • Reyes Tárrega
  • Ainhoa De la Rosa
  • Leonor Calvo


Two drivers of global change that affect ecosystem function include wildland fire regimes characterised by frequent, severe fires and increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition. However, their combined effect on the post-fire recovery of Mediterranean forests is still little known. We assessed the interactive effects of two fire severities and N addition on the rate and timing of seed germination of three woody species with different post-fire regeneration strategies in fire-prone forests: Pinus pinaster, an obligate-seeder species, and two facultative-seeder species, Pterospartum tridentatum (high-resprouting and low-seeding ability) and Halimium lasianthum (low-resprouting and high-seeding ability). Seeds were subjected to six combinations of temperature [control (no heat treatment), 60 °C (moderate fire severity) and 120 °C (high fire severity) for 5 min] and N fertilisation (without N and with addition of 4.17 g Nm−2 of solid granules of ammonium nitrate, equivalent to three times the current estimate of airborne N deposition in the study area) under laboratory conditions. We found that N fertilisation had a significant, negative effect on the rate of seed germination of the three species under study. Additionally, we detected no differences in P. pinaster germination among thermal treatments; while both P. tridentatum and H. lasianthum had significantly higher germination rates when submitted to high fire-severity conditions. Moreover, the average time of seed germination increased with N fertilisation for P. pinaster but increased after the thermal treatments for H. lasianthum. These results suggest that increased N availability under intense wildfire regimes may hinder post-fire seed germination, regardless of the species’ regeneration strategy, in fire-prone pine forests.


Atmospheric nitrogen deposition Germination Halimium lasianthum Pinus pinaster Pterospartum tridentatum 



We thank the Environmental Department of the Regional Government of Castilla y León for the information provided.


This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and the European Regional Development Fund (GESFIRE Project, AGL2013-48189-C2-1-R; FIRESEVES Project, AGL2017-86075-C2-1-R); and the Regional Government of Castilla and León (FIRECYL Project, LE033U14; SEFIRECYL Project, LE001P17).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Area of Ecology, Department of Biodiversity and Environmental ManagementUniversity of LeónLeónSpain

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