Fire, canopy cover and seedling dynamics in Mediterranean shrubland of northeastern Spain

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Seedling establishment and survival of the main woody species of early-successional shrubland in northeastern Spain were studied from 1992 to 1995 with emphasis on the importance of vegetation cover (existence of open areas and the situation beneath the plant canopy) and microhabitat (occurrence of stones, litter and bare soil). In the absence of fire, vegetation cover (measured at a scale of 30 cm x 30 cm) was not correlated with seedling emergence of most species, nor with growth and survival of seedlings up to one year old. Seedlings older than one year showed a similar pattern: their density was not significantly different in both kinds of habitats. The emergence of seedlings was mainly associated with the presence of mature plants - which can provide seeds - and with the absence of unsuitable microhabitats (large stones, deep litter and bare soil). In April 1994 a wildfire burned the study area. This enabled a study of the pattern of post-fire establishment. After the wildfire, seedling emergence of several species increased and most species produced seedlings with higher survival and growth rates than in the period before the fire. Pre-fire cover, however, did not show significant effects on post-fire seedling dynamics in most cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-430
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • Mediterranean-type ecosystem
  • Microhabitat
  • Pioneer community
  • Seedling emergence
  • Seedling survival
  • Succession
  • Vegetation structure


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