Rekindling an old flame: a haploid model for the evolution and impact of flammability in resprouting plants
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): B. Kerr; D. W. Schwilk; A. Bergman; M. W. Feldman
Publication Year: 1999

Cataloging Information

  • allelopathy
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • ecosystem engineering
  • evolution
  • fire adaptations (plants)
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • flammability
  • flammability
  • frequency-dependent selection
  • genetics
  • Mutch hypothesis
  • niche construction
  • plant population genetics
  • resprouting
  • resprouting plants
  • seed germination
  • stable cycles
  • statistical analysis
  • two-locus theory
  • unstable cycles
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 45210
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20684
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Using a two-locus diallelic population genetic model, we studied the evolution and impact of flammable traits in resprouting plants. A 'flammability locus' determines the flammable character of a plant and the frequency of alleles at this locus affects the probability that any plant in the population will burn. A linked 'disturbance locus' determines how a plant fares in the presence or absence of fire. Thus, the frequencies of alleles at the flammability locus influence evolution at the disturbance locus. The evolution of flammability-enhancing alleles is influenced by asymmetries in the genotypic fitnesses as well as by the base flammability of the population and the genetic structure of the system (with tighter linkage increasing the possibility that the population becomes more flammable). We demonstrate that stable polymorphisms of plants differing in flammability alleles are possible. The magnitude of the organism's impact on the flammable character of the environment influences where such polymorphisms are expected. Furthermore, predictions concerning the evolution of alleles at the disturbance locus based solely on fitness asymmetries may fail due to the influence of plants on their environment. Unusual population dynamics, including stable and unstable cycles of genotypes, are also presented. The relation of this model to the Mutch hypothesis and the recently developed theories of 'niche construction' and 'ecosystem engineering' is discussed. © 1999 Benjamin Kerr.

Online Link(s):
Kerr, B., D. W. Schwilk, A. Bergman, and M. W. Feldman. 1999. Rekindling an old flame: a haploid model for the evolution and impact of flammability in resprouting plants. Evolutionary Ecology Research, v. 1, no. 7, p. 807-833.