Positive coupling between growth and reproduction in young post-fire Aleppo pines depends on climate and site conditions
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Raquel Alfaro-Sánchez; Jesús Julio Camarero; Francisco R. Lopez-Serrano; Raúl Sánchez-Salguero; Daniel Moya; Jorge de las Heras
Publication Year: 2015

Cataloging Information

  • aleppo pine
  • drought
  • Pinus halepensis
  • post-fire
  • radial growth
  • reproduction
  • serotiny
  • Spain
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: July 3, 2017
FRAMES Record Number: 20159


In fire- and drought-prone Mediterranean forests tree growth and regeneration depend on the moisture regime between fires. Therefore, post-fire tree regeneration will depend on moisture conditions and how they are altered by fire recurrence and climate warming. Aleppo pine forests are the most abundant Circum-Mediterranean ecosystems subjected to frequent wildfires and summer droughts. Because both stressors constrain their reproduction and growth patterns across diverse ecological conditions, these forests represent a suitable system to test how moisture availability drives post-fire regeneration. Aleppo pine is an obligate seeder species that reproduces at an early age after fire. Such precocious behaviour poses the question as to whether post-fire regeneration depends on moisture conditions and the coupling between female cone production and growth. Here, we evaluate if female cone production and radial growth are linked at the tree level in post-fire Aleppo pines by comparing a dry v. a very dry site and considering stands with three different tree densities in south-eastern Spain. We found that trees with higher basal areas produced more female cones and this positive association intensified as the water balance improved. Aleppo pines from the very dry site were more precocious in reproductive terms than pines of the same age from the dry site, but long-term cone production was lower at the very dry site. Lower tree density enhances the resilience of xeric post-fire Aleppo pine forests, in growth and reproduction terms, but this effect can be reversed by droughts. Overall, a more positive water balance improves post-fire regeneration by enhancing growth and cone production. Thus, silvicultural treatments such as thinning should be applied by taking into account the post-fire water balance to maximise growth and cone production in Aleppo pine stands. Our findings illustrate how climate warming could hamper post-fire tree regeneration by aggravating drought stress.

Online Link(s):
Alfaro-Sánchez, Raquel; Camarero, J. Julio; Lopez-Serrano, Francisco R.; Sánchez-Salguero, Raúl; Moya, Daniel; de las Heras, Jorge. 2015. Positive coupling between growth and reproduction in young post-fire Aleppo pines depends on climate and site conditions. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24(4):507-517.