• Brazilian savanna;
  • dormancy;
  • fire;
  • germination;
  • heat shock


Fire is considered an important factor in influencing the physiognomy, dynamics and composition of Neotropical savannas. Species of diverse physiognomies exhibit different responses to fire, such as population persistence and seed mortality, according to the fire frequency to which they are submitted. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of heat shocks on seed germination of Anadenanthera macrocarpa (Benth.) Brenan, Dalbergia miscolobium Benth., Aristolochia galeata Mart. & Zucc., Kielmeyera coriacea (Spreng.) Mart. and Guazuma ulmifolia Lam., which are native species of the Brazilian savanna. The temperatures and exposure times to which the seeds were submitted were established according to data obtained in the field during a prescribed fire: 60 °C (10, 20 and 40 min), 80 °C (5, 10 and 20 min) and 100 °C (2, 5 and 10 min). Untreated seeds were used as controls. Seeds of A. galeata and K. coriacea showed high tolerance to most heat treatments, and seeds of A. macrocarpa showed a significant reduction in germination percentage after treatments of 80 °C and 100 °C. Treatments of 100 °C for 10 min reduced germination percentage for all species except G. ulmifolia, which has dormant seeds. For this species, germination was accelerated by heat treatments. The high temperatures applied did not interfere with the time to 50% germination (T50) of the tolerant seeds. Seeds of the savanna species K. coriacea and A. galeata were more tolerant to heat shocks than seeds of the forest species A. macrocarpa. Guazuma ulmifolia, the forest species with seeds that germinate after heat shock, also occurs in savanna physiognomies. Overall, the high temperatures applied did not affect the germination rate of the tolerant seeds.