University of California, Los Angeles, USA, September 6-9, 2011

Special session: Fire as an evolutionary pressure shaping plant traits
Chair: Juli G. Pausas & Dylan Schwilk

Date: Tuesday, September 6, from 14:00 to 17:20.
Room: South Bay Room, Covel Commons Conference Center

Plants possess many traits that allow individual survival or population persistence in the face of recurrent fires. Although a great deal of research has focused on these fire traits, the assumption that such traits are adaptations to fire has remained controversial. The opposing view is that these traits are not fire adaptations, but at most, exaptations: that is, traits that originated as responses to an evolutionary pressure other than fire but now enhance plant performance in a fire-prone environment. However, there is now a bulk of information suggesting that fire is an old ecosystem process dating back to almost the origin of terrestrial vegetation and has been a strong evolutionary pressure. In this special session, we aim to present the growing evidence that many plant traits are indeed fire adaptations as they have been shaped by specific fire regimes through their evolutionary history. We aim to present ecological, phylogenetic and genetic evidence for natural selection driven by fire.

Program (speakers and talks):

  • 2:00-2:20 - Juli G. Pausas: Fire shapes plant traits: Introduction & evidence from the Mediterranean Basin [Abstract | Slides]
  • 2:20-3:00 - William Bond: Fire and the angiosperm revolutions [Abstract | Slides]
  • 3:00-3:20 - Byron Lamont: Role of fire in evolution of the great Gondwanan family Proteaceae [Abstract | Slides]
  • 3:20-3:40 - Susana Gómez-González: Anthropogenic fires drive evolution of seed traits in the Chilean matorral [Abstract | Slides]

  • Coffee break

  • 4:00-4:20 - Brandon Pratt: Tradeoffs between seedling recruitment and sprouter persistence shape the evolution of chaparral shrub life history types [Abstract]
  • 4:20-4:40 - Jon E. Keeley: Evolution of postfire seedling recruitment [Abstract | Slides]
  • 4:40-5:00 - Tom Parker: Dispersal and seed bank shifts in the Arbutoideae (Ericaceae): the potential role of fire [Abstract]
  • 5:00-5:20 - Byron Lamont: Fire-stimulated flowering in mediterranean regions - a review [Abstract | Slides]
  • 5:20-5:40 - Discussion

  • Summary of the session:

  • Pausas, J. G., Schwilk, D. W. 2012. Fire and plant evolution. New Phytologist, 193:301-303. [doi | wiley | pdf]

  • Other papers derived from the talks:

  • Bond W.J. & Midgley J.J. 2012. Fire and the Angiosperm Revolutions. Int. J. Plant Sci., 173, 569-583. [doi]
  • Gómez-González S, Torres-Díaz C, Bustos-Schindler C, Gianoli E, 2011. Anthropogenic fire drives the evolution of seed traits. PNAS 108: 18743-18747. [doi]
  • Lamont, BB and Downes, KS, 2011. Fire-stimulated flowering among resprouters and geophytes in Australia and South Africa. Plant Ecology 212 (12): 2111-2125. [doi]
  • Lamont, B. B., N. J. Enright, and T. He. 2011. Fitness and evolution of resprouters in relation to fire. Plant Ecology 212 (12): 1945-1957. [doi]
  • Pausas, J. G., G. Alessio, B. Moreira, and G. Corcobado. 2012. Fires enhance flammability in Ulex parviflorus. New Phytologist 193: 18-23. [doi | pdf]