Forestry Studies in China

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 260–267 | Cite as

Long-term effect of fire on herbaceous species diversity in oriental beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) forests in northern Iran

  • Mohammad Naghi AdelEmail author
  • Hassan Pourbabaei
  • Ali Omidi
  • David Pothier
Research Article


We studied the long-term impacts of natural burning on herbaceous species diversity 37 years after a fire occurred in the Roudbar forests of Guilan Province, northern Iran. Numerous studies have examined short-term changes in understory vegetation following wildfire; however, very few long-term studies are available or changes inferred from retrospective studies based on chronosequences. For this study, 170 ha of forest (85 ha, burned areas; 85 ha, unburned areas) were surveyed. Because the 1000 m2 plots were too large for detailed measurements of herbaceous species, we determined a sub-sample size according to the Whittaker’s nested plot sampling protocol and minimal areas method. Hence, sub-plots of 32 m2 were used for herbaceous species measurements, which consisted of percent cover of each species based on the Domin criterion. We measured plant diversity (Shannon-Wiener index), species richness (Margalef’s index), and evenness (Smith-Wilson index). Mean percent cover, together with diversity, richness and evenness, increased markedly in burned areas compared to unburned controls. This suggests that the biodiversity of these forests could be restored within 37 years after fire. However, the abundance of invasive species such as Rubus fruticosus and Bromus benekenii increased significantly in burned areas, but these could be controlled by relevant silvicultural operations.

Key words

fire diversity richness evenness beech forest northern Iran 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrahamson W G, Hartnett D C. 1990. Pine flatwoods and dry prairies. In: Myers R L, Ewel J J, eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, USA: University of Central Florida Press, 103–149Google Scholar
  2. Akinsoji A. 1988. Postfire vegetation dynamics in a sagebrush steppe in southeastern Idaho, USA. Vegetatio, 78: 151–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson R C, Loucks O L, Swain A M. 1968. Herbaceous response to canopy cover, light intensity, and throughfall precipitation in coniferous forests. Ecology, 50: 255–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arthur M A, Paratley R D, Blankenship B A. 1998. Single and repeated fires affect survival and regeneration of woody and herbaceous species in an oak-pine forest. J Tor Bot Soc, 125: 225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Auchmoody L R. 1979. Nitrogen fertilization stimulates of dormant pin cherry seed. Can J For Res, 9: 514–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banj Shafiei A, Akbarinia M, Jalali G, Hosseini M. 2010. Forest fire effects in beech dominated mountain forest of Iran. For Ecol Manage, 259: 2191–2196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bataineh A L, Oswald B P, Bataineh M M, Williams H M, Coble D W. 2006. Change in understory vegetation of a ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona 30 years after a wild-fire. For Ecol Manage, 235: 283–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bazzaz F A. 1975. Plant species diversity in old-growth successional ecosystems in southern Illinois. Ecology, 56: 485–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bernhardt E L, Hollingsworth T N, Chapin III F S. 2011. Fire severity mediates climate-driven shifts in understorey community composition of black spruce stands of Interior Alaska. J Veg Sci, 22: 32–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boerner R E J, Brinkman J A, Sutherland E K. 2003. Effects of fire at two frequencies on nitrogen transformations and soil chemistry in a nitrogen-enriched forest landscape. Can J For Res, 34: 609–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brockway D G, Lewis C E. 1997. Long-term effect of dormantseason prescribed fire on plant community diversity, structure and productivity in a longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem. For Ecol Manage, 96: 167–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cain S A. 1938. The species-area Curve. Am Midland Nat, 19: 81–573Google Scholar
  13. Coop J D, Massatti R T, Schoettle A W. 2010. Subalpine vegetation pattern three decades after stand-replacing fire: Effects of landscape context and topography on plant community composition, tree regeneration, and diversity. J Veg Sci, 21: 472–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dagett P. 1977. Le bioclimat mediterraneen: Analyse des formes climatiques par le systeme d’Emberger. Vegetatio, 34: 87–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elliott K J, Hendrick L, Major A E, Vose J M, Swank W T. 1999. Vegetation dynamics after prescribed fire in the southern Appalachians. For Ecol Manage, 114: 199–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elliott K J, Vose J M, Hendrick R L. 2009. Long-term effects of high intensity prescribed fire on vegetation dynamics in the Wine Spring Creek Watershed, western North Carolina, USA. Fire Ecol, 5(2): 66–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fernandez-Abascal I, Tarrega R, Luis-Calabuig E. 2004. Ten years of recovery after experimental fire in a heathland: effects of sowing native species. For Ecol Manage, 203: 147–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ffolliott P F, Stropki C L, Kauffman A T. 2009. A 43-year evaluation of a prescribed fire: an Arizona case study. Fire Ecol, 5(1): 79–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Franklin J, Spears-Lebrun L, Deutschman D H, Marsden K. 2006. Impact of a high-intensity fire on mixed evergreen and mixed conifer forests in the Peninsular Ranges of southern California, USA. For Ecol Manage, 235: 18–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gilliam F S. 2007. The ecological significance of the Herbaceous layer in temperate forest ecosystems. BioScience, 57(10): 845–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gilliam F S, Christensen N L. 1986. Herb-layer response to burning in pine flatwoods of the lower Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Bull Torr Bot Club, 113: 42–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Glasgow L S, Matlack G R. 2007. Prescribed burning and understory composition in a temperate deciduous forest, Ohio, USA. For Ecol Manage, 238: 54–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hall G M J, Wiser S K, Allen R B, Beets P N, Goulding C J. 2001. Strategies to estimate national carbon stocks from inventory data: the 1990 New Zealand baseline. Glob Chan Biol, 7: 389–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hartman G W, Heumann B. 2004. Prescribed fire effects in the Ozarks of Missouri: the Chilton Creek Project 1996–2001. Proceedings, 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress.Google Scholar
  25. Orlando, FL Herath D N, Lamont B B, Enright N J, Miller B P. 2009. Impact of fire on plant-species persistence in post — mine restored and natural shrubland communities in southern Australia. Biol Conserv, 142: 2175–2180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hutchinson T F, Boerner R E J, Sutherland S, Sutherland E K, Ortt M, Iverson L R. 2005. Prescribed fire effects on the herbaceous layer on mixed-oak forests. Can J For Res, 35: 877–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hutchinson T F, Sutherland S. 2000. Fire and understory vegetation, a large scale study in Ohio and a search for general response patterns in central hardwood forests. In: Yaussy D, ed. Proceedings, Workshop on Fire, People, and the Central Hardwoods Landscape, General Technical Report GTRNE-299, 64–74Google Scholar
  28. Keeley J E, Fotheringham C J. 1998. Smoke-induced seed germination in California Chaparral. Ecology, 79(7): 2320–2336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Krebs C J. 1989. Ecological Methodology, 1st edn. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 654Google Scholar
  30. Kuddes-Fischer L M, Arthur M A. 2002. Response of understory vegetation and tree regeneration to a single prescribed fire in oak-pine forests. Nat Areas J, 22: 43–52Google Scholar
  31. Laughlin D C, Bakker J D, Stoddard M T, Daniels M L, Springer J D, Gildar C N, Green A M, Covington W W. 2004. Toward reference conditions: Wildfire effects on flora in an old-growth ponderosa pine forest. For Ecol Manage, 199: 137–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lecomte N, Simard M, Bergeron Y, Larouche A, Asnong H, Richard P J H. 2005. Effects of fire severity and initial tree composition on understory vegetation dynamics in a boreal landscape inferred from chronosequence and paleoecological data. J Veg Sci, 16: 665–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lloret F, Zedler P H. 2007. The effect of forest fire on vegetation. In: Cerda A, Robichaud P R, eds. Fire Effect on Soils and Restoration Strategies. Enfield, NH: Science publisher, 589Google Scholar
  34. Loucks E, Arthur M A, Lyons J E, Loftis D L. 2008. Characterization of fuel before and after a single prescribed fire in an Appalachian forest. S J Appl For, 32: 80–88Google Scholar
  35. Lowe P O, Ffolliott P F, Dieterich J H, Patton D R. 1978. Determining potential wildfire benefits from wildfire in Arizona ponderosa pine forests. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. General Technical Report RM-52, 12Google Scholar
  36. Ludwig F, de Kroon H, Berendse F, Prins H H T. 2004. The influence of savanna trees on nutrient, water and light availability and the understory vegetation. Plant Ecol, 170: 93–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ludwig A J, Reynolds F J. 1988. Statistical Ecology: a Primer of Methods and Computing. New York: Wiley Press, 337Google Scholar
  38. Magurran A E. 1988. Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement. London: Croom Helm, 179Google Scholar
  39. McConnell K, Menges E S. 2002. Effects of fire and treatments that mimic fire on Florida endemic scrub buckwheat (Eriogonum longifolium Nutt. var. gnaphalifolium Gand). Nat Areas J, 22: 194–201Google Scholar
  40. Mohadjer M R. 2006. Silviculture. Tehran, Iran: Tehran University Press, 387Google Scholar
  41. Moore M M, Casey C A, Bakker J D, Springer J D, Fule P Z, Covington W W, Laughlin D C. 2006. Herbaceous vegetation response (1992–2004) to restoration treatment in a ponderosa pine forest. Range Ecol Manage, 59: 135–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moreira F, Delgado A, Ferreira S, Borralho R, Oliveira N, Inacio M, Silva J S, Rego F. 2003. Effects of prescribed fire on vegetation structure and breeding birds in young Pinus pinaster stands of Northern Portugal. For Ecol Manage, 184: 225–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Moretti M, Barbalat M. 2004. The effects of wildfire on wood-eating beetles in deciduous forests on the southern slope of the Swiss Alps. For Ecol Manage, 187: 85–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nuzzo V A, McClain W, Strole T. 1996. Fire impact on ground layer flora in a sand forest 1990–1994. Am Midl Nat, 136: 207–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rees D C, Juday G P. 2002. Plant species diversity on logged versus burned sites in central Alaska. For Ecol Manage, 155: 291–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Reinhardt E D, Ryan K C. 1988. Eight-year tree growth following prescribed under-burning in a Western Montana Douglas-fir/western larch stand. USDA Forest Service. Intermountain Research StationGoogle Scholar
  47. Sagheb-Talebi K, Sajedi T, Yazdian F. 2004. Forests of Iran. Research Institute of forests and Rangelands, Tehran, Iran. 28Google Scholar
  48. Smith B, Wilson J B. 1996. A consumer’s guide to evenness indices. Oikos, 76: 70–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. van Mantgem P, Schwarts M. 2001. Monitoring fire effects for managed burns and wildfires: Coming to terms with pseudoreplication. Nat Area J, 21: 266–273Google Scholar
  50. Veblen T T. 2003. Key issues in fire regime research for fuels management and ecological restoration. In: Omi P, Joyce L, eds. Conference Proceedings on Fire, Fuel Treatments and Ecological Restoration. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 259–276Google Scholar
  51. Vickery P D. 2002. Effect of the size of prescribed fire on insect predation of northern blazing star, a rare grassland perennial. Conserv Biol, 16: 413–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wardle J A. 1984. The New Zealand beeches: Ecology, utilization and management. New Zealand Forest Service, Wellington, NZGoogle Scholar
  53. Wright H A, Bailey A W. 1982. Fire Ecology: United States and Southern Canada. New York, NY: John Wiley & SonsGoogle Scholar
  54. Zimmerman G T. Neuenschwander L F. 1984. Livestock grazing influences on community structure, fire intensity, and fire frequency within the Douglas-fir/ninebark habitat type. J Range Manage, 37: 104–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Beijing Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Naghi Adel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hassan Pourbabaei
    • 1
  • Ali Omidi
    • 2
  • David Pothier
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Forestry, Natural Resources FacultyUniversity of Guilan, SomehsaraGuilanIran
  2. 2.Department of ForestryNatural Resources OfficeGuilanIran
  3. 3.Centre d’étude de la forêt (CEF) et Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Pavillon Abitibi-PriceUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

Personalised recommendations