Flammability is not selected for, it emergesJeremy J. Midgley
Botany Department, University of Cape Town, Private Bag Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa. Email: Jeremy.Midgley@uct.ac.za
Australian Journal of Botany 61(2) 102-106 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT12289
Submitted: 6 September 2012 Accepted: 16 January 2013 Published: 28 February 2013
The present explanation for the evolution of flammability invokes the need for a flammable mutant parent plant (the torch) to be able to spread the negative effects of fire to less flammable, more fire-sensitive neighbouring plants (the damps). Thereafter, if the torch either produces more seedlings, or more competitive seedlings, in the post-fire environment, to take over the space vacated by both the dead damps and the torch, then torch genotypes could invade. Here, I argue that an individual flammable mutant genotype cannot invade the ‘group’ of non-flammable individuals because it implies unlikely patterns of seed dispersal and fitness advantages. The implication of this is that although flammability can evolve, it is an incidental or emergent property of species or ecosystems and that it confers no extra advantages to individual flammable plants. In contrast, anti-flammability could be both selected for, and evolve.
Additional keywords: fire ecology, fire regimes, fire traits, pyrogenicity.
ReferencesBond WJ, Midgley JJ (1995) Kill thy neighbour: an individualistic argument for the evolution of flammability. Oikos 73, 79–85.
| Kill thy neighbour: an individualistic argument for the evolution of flammability.CrossRef |
Bond WJ, Midgley JJ (2012) Fire and angiosperm revolutions. International Journal of Plant Sciences 173, 569–583.
| Fire and angiosperm revolutions.CrossRef |
D’Antonio CM, Vitousek PM (1992) Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle and global change. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 23, 63–87.
Gagnon PR, Passmore HA, Platt WJ, Myers JA, Paine CET, Harms KE (2010) Does pyrogenicity protect burning plants? Ecology 91, 3481–3486.
| Does pyrogenicity protect burning plants?CrossRef |
He T, Lamont BB, Downes KS (2011) Banksia born to burn? New Phytologist 191, 184–196.
| Banksia born to burn?CrossRef |
He T, Pausus JG, Belcher CM, Schwilk DW, Lamont BB (2012) Fire-adapted traits of Pinus arose in the fiery Cretaceous. New Phytologist 194, 751–759.
| Fire-adapted traits of Pinus arose in the fiery Cretaceous.CrossRef |
Keeley JE, Bond WJ, Bradstock RA, Pausas JG, Rundel PW (2011) ‘Fire in Mediterranean ecosystems: ecology, evolution and management.’ (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK)
Midgley JJ, Bond WJ (2011) Pushing back in time the role of fire in plant evolution. New Phytologist 191, 5–7.
| Pushing back in time the role of fire in plant evolution.CrossRef |
Midgley JJ, Enright NJ, Cowling RM (1998) Demography and co-existence of two ecologically equvalent Proteaceae. Australian Journal of Botany 46, 505–510.
| Demography and co-existence of two ecologically equvalent Proteaceae.CrossRef |
Midgley JJ, Kruger LM, Skelton R (2011) How do fires kill plants? The hydraulic death hypothesis and Cape Proteaceae ‘fire-resisters’. South African Journal of Botany 77, 381–386.
| How do fires kill plants? The hydraulic death hypothesis and Cape Proteaceae ‘fire-resisters’.CrossRef |
Mingo A, Oesterheld M (2009) Retention of dead leaves by grasses as a defence against herbivores. A test on the palatable grass Paspalum dilatum. Oikos 118, 753–757.
| Retention of dead leaves by grasses as a defence against herbivores. A test on the palatable grass Paspalum dilatum.CrossRef |
Mutch RW (1970) Wildland fires and ecosystems – a hypothesis. Ecology 51, 1046–1051.
| Wildland fires and ecosystems – a hypothesis.CrossRef |
Snyder JR (1984) The role of fire: mutch ado about nothing? Oikos 43, 404–405.
| The role of fire: mutch ado about nothing?CrossRef |