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Seed ecology of post-fire flowering species from the Cerrado

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2022

Hudson G.V. Fontenele*
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil
Heloisa S. Miranda
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil
*Correspondence: Hudson G. V. Fontenele, E-mail:


Post-fire flowering (PFF) species resprout, flower and disperse seeds within weeks after fire. This may be an important strategy to recruit new individuals and colonize the gaps opened by fire. The seeds released in the post-fire environment may interact with byproducts derived from plant burning, and the resulting ash may have compounds that can promote the germination of various seeds, particularly those with permeable coats. In the Cerrado ecoregion, PFF is a strategy commonly observed in the species of the ground layer, but their seeds are rarely investigated. So, we examined the quality and the germination of the seeds of 13 species that disperse seeds within 3 months after fire. We estimated the amount of empty, filled and predated seeds for each species, and tested the germination with or without ash. There was a clear separation in seed quality as dicots produced 35–75% filled seeds but grasses <15%. Pre-dispersal predation was only observed for dicots (<10%). Ash stimulated the germination of two out of the three dormant species but inhibited the germination of three non-dormant species. Overall, the seeds produced in response to fire are an important source of genetic variability in an ecosystem that has resprouting as the main persistence strategy. As most species have non-dormant seeds, ash may only be important to stimulate the germination of few PFF species. Even so, ash can be completely washed away by rains before seeds are dispersed and may not have an effect under field conditions.

Research Paper
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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