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Flammability as an ecological and evolutionary driver

Flammability as an ecological and evolutionary driver We live on a flammable planet yet there is little consensus on the origin and evolution of flammability in our flora. We argue that part of the problem lies in the concept of flammability, which should not be viewed as a single quantitative trait or metric. Rather, we propose that flammability has three major dimensions that are not necessarily correlated: ignitability, heat release and fire spread rate. These major axes of variation are controlled by different plant traits and have differing ecological impacts during fire. At the individual plant scale, these traits define three flammability strategies observed in fire‐prone ecosystems: the non‐flammable, the fast‐flammable and the hot‐flammable strategy (with low ignitability, high flame spread rate and high heat release, respectively). These strategies increase the survival or reproduction under recurrent fires, and thus, plants in fire‐prone ecosystems benefit from acquiring one of them; they represent different (alternative) ways to live under recurrent fires. Synthesis. This novel framework based on different flammability strategies helps us to understand variability in flammability across scales, and provides a basis for further research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Ecology Wiley

Flammability as an ecological and evolutionary driver

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References (77)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Journal of Ecology © 2017 British Ecological Society
ISSN
0022-0477
eISSN
1365-2745
DOI
10.1111/1365-2745.12691
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We live on a flammable planet yet there is little consensus on the origin and evolution of flammability in our flora. We argue that part of the problem lies in the concept of flammability, which should not be viewed as a single quantitative trait or metric. Rather, we propose that flammability has three major dimensions that are not necessarily correlated: ignitability, heat release and fire spread rate. These major axes of variation are controlled by different plant traits and have differing ecological impacts during fire. At the individual plant scale, these traits define three flammability strategies observed in fire‐prone ecosystems: the non‐flammable, the fast‐flammable and the hot‐flammable strategy (with low ignitability, high flame spread rate and high heat release, respectively). These strategies increase the survival or reproduction under recurrent fires, and thus, plants in fire‐prone ecosystems benefit from acquiring one of them; they represent different (alternative) ways to live under recurrent fires. Synthesis. This novel framework based on different flammability strategies helps us to understand variability in flammability across scales, and provides a basis for further research.

Journal

Journal of EcologyWiley

Published: Mar 1, 2017

Keywords: ; ; ;

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