Generalized fire response strategies in plants and animals
19 September 2018Pausas, Juli
Despite the existing large body of research on plant-animal interactions, plant research and animal research are still relatively independent and asymmetrical in relation to disturbance. Animals and plants are likely to have different fire responses, yet biodiversity studies in relation to disturbance may benefit from a more integrated functional approach across kingdoms. This would also force us to go deeper into the biological mechanisms and scales for persistence than a taxonomic-based classification. An integrated view of plant and animal responses would enable us to learn from a great variety of life forms and benefit from expertise in complementary disciplines. To achieve this integrated view, I propose a functional classification for both plants and animals in relation to their fire response strategy. This classification includes the following strategies: resistance, refugia, avoidance, dormancy, recolonization, crypsis, and intolerance. Given the limited knowledge of fire responses for many organisms, and especially for many animals, this classification may require further development. However, it provides a framework that facilitates finding knowledge gaps and directing future research for gaining a better understanding of the role of fire on biodiversity.