Fire, flammability and functional traits at the forefront of global change ecology
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Rachel M. Mitchell; Adam R. Martin
Publication Year: 2023

Cataloging Information

  • flammability
  • functional traits
  • vegetation fires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 8, 2023
FRAMES Record Number: 68687


Vegetation fires - a term encompassing wildfires, biomass burning, forest fires and scrub fires, among others (Bowman et al., 2020) - have played a key role in governing Earth's systems for millions of years, dating to the evolution of vascular plants during the Silurian Period some 420 million years ago (Scott & Glasspool, 2006). Fire also remains among the most critical factors shaping the structure, function and composition of “neoecological” landscapes worldwide, with roughly 3-5 million km2 of forests, savannas, grasslands and shrublands - the latter being the focus of the research by Boving et al. (2023) - burned annually (Chuvieco et al., 2018). Fires are central in multiple terrestrial-atmospheric feedback cycles. For example, fires contribute ~8 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions annually and reducing in Earth's vegetation biomass by ~10% annually. These emissions and reductions that are partially offset by post-fire vegetation regrowth, are estimated to store ~7 billion tonnes of CO2 annually (Lasslop et al., 2020). At the same time, fire has shaped Earth's biodiversity across evolutionary timescales and continues to structure the composition and dynamics in many of Earth's present-day ecological communities (Kelly et al., 2020).

Online Link(s):
Mitchell, Rachel M.; Martin, Adam R. 2023. Fire, flammability and functional traits at the forefront of global change ecology. Functional Ecology 37(11):2767-2769.