History matters: Previous land use changes determine post-fire vegetation recovery in forested Mediterranean landscapes

Carolina Puerta-Piñero, Josep M. Espelta, Belén Sánchez-Humanes, Anselm Rodrigo, Lluís Coll, Lluís Brotons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Land use changes and shifts in disturbance regimes (e.g. wildfires) are recognized worldwide as two of the major drivers of the current global change in terrestrial ecosystems. We expect that, in areas with large-scale land use changes, legacies from previous land uses persist and affect current ecosystem responses to climate-associated disturbances like fire. This study analyses whether post-fire vegetation dynamics may differ according to specific historical land use histories in a Mediterranean forest landscape of about 60,000. ha that was burnt by extensive fires. For that, we assessed land use history of the whole area through the second half of the XXth century, and evaluated the post-fire regeneration success in terms of: (i) forest cover and (ii) tree species composition (biotic-dispersed, resprouter species, Quercus spp. vs. wind-dispersed species with or without fire-resistant seed bank, Pinus spp.). Results showed that stable forest areas exhibited a higher post-fire recovery than younger forests. Furthermore, the longer since crop abandonment translates into a faster post-fire recovery. Results highlight that to anticipate the impacts of disturbances on ecosystems, historical land trajectories should be taken into account. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume279
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012

Keywords

  • Global change
  • Mediterranean forest
  • Passive restoration
  • Pinus
  • Quercus

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