Leaf and Shoot Water Content and Leaf Dry Matter Content of Mediterranean Woody Species with Different Post-fire Regenerative Strategies

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Abstract

Background and Aims

Post-fire regeneration is a key process in Mediterranean shrubland dynamics, strongly determining the functional properties of the community. In this study, a test is carried out to deteremine whether there is co-variation between species regenerative types and functional attributes related to water use.

Methods

An analysis was made of the seasonal variations in leaf relative water content (RWC), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf moisture (LM) and live fine fuel moisture (LFFM) in 30 woody species of a coastal shrubland, with different post-fire regenerative strategies (seeding, resprouting or both).

Key Results

RWC results suggest that the studied resprouters have more efficient mechanisms to reduce water losses and maintain water supply between seasons. In contrast, seeders are more drought tolerant. LDMC is higher in resprouters over the course of the year, suggesting a more efficient conservation of nutrients. The weight of the phylogenetic constraint to understand differences between regenerative strategies tends to be important for LDMC, while it is not the case for variables such as RWC.

Conclusions

Groups of species with different post-fire regenerative strategies (seeders and resprouters) have different functional traits related to water use. In addition to the role of phylogenetical constraints, these differences are also likely to be related to the respective life history characteristics. Therefore, the presence and abundance of species with different post-fire regenerative responses influence the functional properties of the communities.

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