FILAS: Fire and biotic interactions at the landscape scale

FILAS: Fuego e interacciones bióticas a escala de paisaje

Funding: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL2015-64086-P), Spanish Government; Period: 1 Jan 2016 - 31 Dec 2018

Lead researcher: Juli G Pausas (CIDE, CSIC)

Personnel: Yedra García (CIDE-CSIC, Valencia), Josabel Belliure (UAH, Madrid), Arturo Baz (UAH, Madrid), Vicente Roca (UV, Valencia), M. Clara Castellanos (Univ. Sussex, UK), Xavier Santos (CIBIO, Univ. Oporto, PT), Juli G Pausas (CIDE-CSIC, Valencia).


In the recent years we have learned a lot about plant response to fires, especially in mediterranean ecosystems. However, there is a considerable lack of knowledge about the effect of fires on other biodiversity components, such as animals and their biotic interactions (plants, predators, parasites). While mediterranean plants tend to have postfire regeneration strategies based on endogenous mechanisms (resprouting, germination from a seed bank, resistance; autosuccession), most animals have not developed such mechanisms, and they recolonize areas affected by fires through metapopulation dynamic processes. Therefore, spatial parameters such as fire size and structure, are more relevant to determine postfire diversity changes in animals than in plants. In this project we start from the general hypothesis that fires affect animal populations (usually negatively), and therefore they alter biotic interactions; this alteration may have implications for the fitness of plants and hosts in which they interact. The magnitude and duration of these changes depends on the strength of interactions (specialists, generalists) and fire characteristics. For example, we predict that in plant-insect specialized interactions, postfire regeretation of the interaction depends strongly on the size and heterogeneity of the fire, while for generalist interactions, regeneration will be quick and largely independent of the spatial characteristics of the fire. In addition, in specialized interactions, we predict that the consequences for the plant or the host depend on the sign of the interaction, so that fires would benefit the plant and the hosts in antagonistic interactions, but would be detrimental for them in mutualistic interactions. To understand the effect of fire on biotic interactions we propose to study the presence and abundance of different groups of animal species, and their interactions, in areas affected by fires in different years and at different distances from the edge of the fire. This will allow us to analyze the spatial and temporal changes of the interactions, including the speed of recovery of the populations and their interactions. In addition, the implications of these changes in the species involved will be analyzed. Specifically, we propose to study generalists flying beetles (eg Cetoniinae), antagonist plant-insect interactions (seed predation), mutualist plant-insect interactions (pollination), and host-parasite interactions in small vertebrates (lizards). All these will contribute to understand the postfire regeneration mechanisms of biodiversity.


- Task 1. General sampling design
- Task 2. Generalists and opportunistic insects
- Task 3. Specific plant-insect interactions
- Task 4. Antagonistic interaction in small vertebrates
- Task 5. Effects at the community scale
- Task 6. Recolonization process: Phenotypic and genetic implications