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International Journal of Wildland Fire
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.


Successional stage after land abandonment modulates fire severity and post-fire recovery in a Mediterranean mountain landscape

Rosario López-Poma, Barron Orr, Susana Bautista

Abstract

This study analyzes the effect of successional stage after farmland terrace abandonment on post-fire plant recovery in a Mediterranean landscape. Specific objectives of the study were to: (1) compare fuel characteristics and fire severity in three successional stages after farmland abandonment: dry grassland, dense shrubland, and pine stands; (2) analyse the effect of pre-fire successional stage and fire severity on vegetation recovery; and (3) analyse the relative vulnerability (i.e., potential for ecosystem shift and soil degradation) to wildfires of the successional stages. We assessed 30 abandoned terraces (15 unburned and 15 burned), with diverse successional stages, on the Xortà Range (SE Spain). Post-fire recovery was measured one, four and seven years after fire. The successional stages varied in aboveground biomass, litter amount, vertical structure and continuity of plant cover, and flammability. Dry grassland showed the lowest fire severity, while no differences in severity were found between shrubland and pine stands. One year after fire, plant cover was inversely related to fire severity; this relationship attenuated with time after fire. Post-fire recovery of pine stands and shrubland led in both cases to shrublands, contributing to landscape homogenization. The pine stands showed the largest changes in composition due to fire and the lowest post-fire plant recovery, a sign of high vulnerability to fire.

WF13150  Accepted 09 May 2014
 
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