Germination behavior of Sarcopoterium spinosum in response to smoke chemicals indicates adaptation to fire in the southeastern Mediterranean

in Israel Journal of Plant Sciences
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Germination behavior of the widespread southeastern Mediterranean shrub Sarcopoterium spinosum was conducted to assess its respond to post-fire cues. Germination experiments were conducted on 10 populations along a rainfall gradient – from productive, fuel-rich and fire-prone mesic Mediterranean populations, as well as from those in arid and fuel-poor environments. Our results indicate that post-fire cues induced germination of S. spinosum only among populations that originated from sites that are prone to wild fires. As wild-fires in this region occur mainly during the long dry season, but rarely ignited by natural factors, the adaptation to human made fires in natural populations of the southeastern Mediterranean environments is discussed.

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Figures
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    Sarcopetrium spinosum is distributed in Israel along diverse climatic conditions ranging from fuel-rich Mediterranean (A) to fuel-poor arid habitats (B).

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    Germination rates (%) of the 10 investigated populations of S. spinosum, with and without exposure to liquid smoke. The results present the average germination of 10 pots for each population and treatment, each pot containing 5 nutlets. Based on the average annual rainfall, habitats are characterized as mesic Mediterranean (MED), semi-arid (SA) or desert (DES) environments (cf. Table 1).

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    Linear regression between vegetation cover (maximum %, see Table 1) and the effect of the smoke cue (fold change) on germination of populations of S. spinosum. NFT: Ramot Naftali; NKR: Rosh haNikra; TRN: Tur’an; GZT: Gazit; RHN: Reihan; OVD: Bet Oved; RFT: Deir Rafat; TKO: Tekoa; YTR: Yatir; ARD: Tel Arad (see Table 1).

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    A map showing the distribution of S. spinosum in the southeastern Mediterranean region (shaded area) and the sampled populations. NFT: Ramot Naftali; NKR: Rosh haNikra; TRN: Tur’an; GZT: Gazit; RHN: Reihan; OVD: Bet Oved; RFT: Deir Rafat; TKO: Tekoa; YTR: Yatir; ARD: Tel Arad (see Table 1).

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