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Survival, growth and vulnerability to drought in fire refuges : implications for the persistence of a fire ‑ sensitive conifer in northern Patagonia

Colaborador(es): Landesmann, Jennifer Brenda. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina. CONICET - Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina | Gowda, Juan H. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina. CONICET - Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina | Garibaldi, Lucas Alejandro. Universidad Nacional de Río Negro (UNRN). Sede Andina. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina. CONICET - Universidad Nacional de Río Negro (UNRN). Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina | Kitzberger, Thomas. Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina. CONICET - Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA. Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina.
ISSN: 0029-8549.Tipo de material: Artículos y capítulos. Recurso electrónico.Tema(s): BASAL AREA INCREMENT | FOREST REMNANT | CLIMATE CHANGE | BIOPHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES | AUSTROCEDRUS CHILENSIS | Recursos en línea: Haga clic para acceso en línea | LINK AL EDITOR En: Oecologia vol.179, no.4 (2015), p.1111–1122, grafs. il.Resumen: Fire severity and extent are expected to increase in many regions worldwide due to climate change. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the relative importance of deterministic vs. stochastic factors producing remnant vegetation to understand their function in the persistence of fire-sensitive plants. Vegetation remnants (areas within the landscape that have not burned for a considerable amount of time) may occur stochastically or in more predictable locations (fire refuges) where physical conditions decrease fire severity. Our aim was to determine if remnant forests of the fire-sensitive conifer Austrocedrus chilensis are associated with biophysical attributes that allow persistence in a fire-prone Patagonian landscape. We conducted a multiscale approach, determining attributes of forest remnants and their surroundings (matrices) through remote sensing and field-based biophysical and functional characteristics, and quantifying how tree survival probability relates to microsite conditions. Trees within remnants displayed abundant fire scars, were twofold older and had threefold larger growth rates than matrix trees. Remnants were associated with high rocky cover and elevated topographical positions. Tree survival increased in hilltops, eastern aspects, and with sparse vegetation. Trees within remnants experienced severe reductions in growth during droughts. Our results suggest that A. chilensis remnants are mainly the result of refuges, where environmental conditions increase fire survival, but also increase susceptibility to drought. A trade-off between fire survival and drought vulnerability may imply that under increasing drought and fire severity, locations that in the past have served as refuges may reduce their ability to allow the persistence of fire-sensitive taxa.
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Fire severity and extent are expected to increase in many regions worldwide due to climate change. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the relative importance of deterministic vs. stochastic factors producing remnant vegetation to understand their function in the persistence of fire-sensitive plants. Vegetation remnants (areas within the landscape that have not burned for a considerable amount of time) may occur stochastically or in more predictable locations (fire refuges) where physical conditions decrease fire severity. Our aim was to determine if remnant forests of the fire-sensitive conifer Austrocedrus chilensis are associated with biophysical attributes that allow persistence in a fire-prone Patagonian landscape. We conducted a multiscale approach, determining attributes of forest remnants and their surroundings (matrices) through remote sensing and field-based biophysical and functional characteristics, and quantifying how tree survival probability relates to microsite conditions. Trees within remnants displayed abundant fire scars, were twofold older and had threefold larger growth rates than matrix trees. Remnants were associated with high rocky cover and elevated topographical positions. Tree survival increased in hilltops, eastern aspects, and with sparse vegetation. Trees within remnants experienced severe reductions in growth during droughts. Our results suggest that A. chilensis remnants are mainly the result of refuges, where environmental conditions increase fire survival, but also increase susceptibility to drought. A trade-off between fire survival and drought vulnerability may imply that under increasing drought and fire severity, locations that in the past have served as refuges may reduce their ability to allow the persistence of fire-sensitive taxa.

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