Fire-related traits for plant species of the Mediterranean Basin

Ecological Archives E090-094

Authors


Abstract

Plant trait information is essential for understanding plant evolution, vegetation dynamics, and vegetation responses to disturbance and management. Furthermore, in Mediterranean ecosystems, changes in fire regime may be more relevant than direct changes in climatic conditions, making the knowledge of fire-related traits especially important. Thus the purpose of this data set was to compile the most updated and comprehensive information on fire-related traits for vascular plant species of the Mediterranean Basin, that is, traits related to plant persistence and regeneration after fire. Data were collected from an extensive literature review and from field and experimental observations. The data source is documented for each value. Since life history traits may vary spatially or with environmental conditions, we did not aggregate them by species; i.e., traits and species are repeated in different records if they were observed by different researchers and/or in different locations. Life history traits included in the data set are: life form, resprouting ability (after fire, after clipping, or after other disturbances that remove all the aboveground biomass), resprouting bud source, heat-stimulated germination, other germination cues, seed bank location and longevity, post-fire seedling emergence and survival, maturity age of resprouts and saplings, and seed mass. Several traits are unknown for many species; consequently, the data set reflects the state of the knowledge on the topic. However, since the ability to resprout is a trait of paramount relevance in fire-prone environments, it was considered a core trait in the data set, and thus species whose resprouting capacity was unknown were not included. Life form is also provided for all taxa. The structure of the database allows different levels of information (and accuracy) for each entry, and thus some traits may include different types of data (quantitative, semi-quantitative, or categorical) from different sources.

The data set is structured in 8263 records and 11 columns, obtained from 301 published and unpublished sources of information. It includes 952 taxa determined at specific or infraspecific level, which comprise 859 species, 384 genera, and 79 families. Although this is the most comprehensive data set of fire-relevant plant traits for Mediterranean species, there is still a considerable need for observations and experiments, especially in little-studied Mediterranean areas, such as northern Africa.

The complete data sets corresponding to abstracts published in the Data Papers section of the journal are published electronically in Ecological Archives at 〈http://esapubs.org/archive〉. (The accession number for each Data Paper is given directly beneath the title.)

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