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Fire-adapted seed traits in Cerrado species

Grant number: 19/09903-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: October 01, 2019 - September 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany - Applied Botany
Cooperation agreement: NERC, UKRI
Principal Investigator:Alessandra Tomaselli Fidelis
Grantee:Alessandra Tomaselli Fidelis
Principal investigator abroad: Gerhard Leubner
Institution abroad: University of London, England
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Aline Redondo Martins ; Rosana Marta Kolb
Associated research grant:15/06743-0 - How does fire season affect Cerrado vegetation?, AP.JP

Abstract

Wildfires are a global phenomenon affecting many ecosystems and together with climate change shapes their vegetation and cause damage to property and livelihoods. Germination from seed after fire is a global phenomenon. It has evolved multiple times, is widespread across the phylogenetic tree, can be associated with distinct seed dormancy mechanisms, and its ecology has been well studied in "Mediterranean-type" fire-prone ecosystems. Far less is known about "Non-Mediterranean-type" fire-prone ecosystems such as the Australian South-East and the Brazilian Cerrado. The Cerrado is a prime example for a fire-prone natural savanna eco-system, it harbours plant species with unique adaptations and is a neotropical biodiversity hotspot with a high proportion of endemic species . Global predictions for increased fire risk under a warming climate highlight the urgent need for a more sustainable coexistence with fire. More frequent weather extremes such as heatwaves come with increased risk of wildfires especially in regions which are normally not burning. Many species from fire-prone regions ensure plant regeneration from soil-stored seed banks with smoke-derived chemicals and/or fire-generated heat-shock as germination cues. These works also suggest that as the Australian South-East, also the Cerrado savanna differs from "Mediterranean-type" fire-prone ecosystems; very little is known about fire-adapted seed traits. (AU)