Studies on fire in Scottish heathland communities. II. Post-fire vegetation development

R. J. Hobbs, C. H. Gimingham

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Regrowth of Calluna vulgaris and Erica cinerea declined with preburn stand age, with a switch from mostly vegetative growth in young stands to regrowth mainly from seed in older stands. Where Vaccinium myrtillus was present before the fire it appeared in abundance after the fire and attained dominance where Calluna regrowth was slow. In the absence of rapid regrowth of Calluna, Deschampsia flexuosa also spread quickly, both vegetatively and by seed produced after the fire. In species-rich heath the numbers and abundances of grass, forb, and lichen species reappearing declined with preburn stand age; there was little grass or forb regrowth in older stands. These trends were still evident 8 yr after a fire. The floristic compostiion set up immediately after the fire is thus the main determinant of post-fire development. The result of burning very old stands is extremely slow regrowth, reduction in species diversity and persistence of bare ground for many years after the fire.-from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-610
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes


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