Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7f7b94f6bd-l8tfn Total loading time: 0.325 Render date: 2022-06-30T14:52:14.728Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

A field perspective on effects of fire and temperature fluctuation on Cerrado legume seeds

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 April 2017

L. Felipe Daibes*
Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Botânica, Av. 24-A 1515, 13506–900, Rio Claro, Brazil
Talita Zupo
Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Botânica, Av. 24-A 1515, 13506–900, Rio Claro, Brazil
Fernando A.O. Silveira
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Departamento de Botânica, CP 486, 31270–901, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Alessandra Fidelis
Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Botânica, Av. 24-A 1515, 13506–900, Rio Claro, Brazil
*Correspondence Email:


Information from a field perspective on temperature thresholds related to physical dormancy (PY) alleviation and seed resistance to high temperatures of fire is crucial to disentangle fire- and non-fire-related germination cues. We investigated seed germination and survival of four leguminous species from a frequently burned open Neotropical savanna in Central Brazil. Three field experiments were conducted according to seed location in/on the soil: (1) fire effects on exposed seeds; (2) fire effects on buried seeds; and (3) effects of temperature fluctuations on exposed seeds in gaps and shaded microsites in vegetation. After field treatments, seeds were tested for germination in the laboratory, together with the control (non-treated seeds). Fire effects on exposed seeds decreased viability in all species. However, germination of buried Mimosa leiocephala seeds was enhanced by fire in an increased fuel load treatment, in which we doubled the amount of above-ground biomass. Germination of two species (M. leiocephala and Harpalyce brasiliana) was enhanced with temperature fluctuation in gaps, but this condition also decreased seed viability. Our main conclusions are: (1) most seeds died when exposed directly to fire; (2) PY could be alleviated during hotter fires when seeds were buried in the soil; and (3) daily temperature fluctuations in gaps also broke PY of seeds on the soil surface, so many seeds could be recruited or die before being incorporated into the soil seed banks. Thus seed dormancy-break and germination of legumes from Cerrado open savannas seem to be driven by both fire and temperature fluctuations.

Research Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Andrade, L.A.Z. and Miranda, H.S. (2014) The dynamics of the soil seed bank after a fire event in a woody savanna in central Brazil. Plant Ecology 215, 11991209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Auld, T.D. and Bradstock, R.A. (1996) Soil temperatures after the passage of a fire: do they influence the germination of buried seeds? Australian Journal of Ecology 21, 106109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Auld, T.D. and Denham, A.J. (2006) How much seed remains in the soil after a fire? Plant Ecology 187, 1524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Auld, T.D. and O'Connell, M.A. (1991) Predicting patterns of post-fire germination in 35 eastern Australian Fabaceae. Australian Journal of Ecology 16, 5370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baskin, C.C. and Baskin, J.M. (2014) Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination, 2nd edition. San Diego, USA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Baskin, J.M. and Baskin, C.C. (2004) A classification system for seed dormancy. Seed Science Research 14, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baskin, J.M., Baskin, C.C. and Li, X. (2000) Taxonomy, anatomy and evolution of physical dormancy in seeds. Plant Species Biology 15, 139152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B. and Walker, S. (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software 67, 148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bewley, J.D., Bradford, K., Hilhorst, H.W.M. and Nonogaki, H. (2013) Seeds: Physiology of Development, Germination and Dormancy, 3rd edition. New York, USA: Springer Science.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bond, W.J. and Keeley, J.E. (2005) Fire as a global ‘herbivore’: the ecology and evolution of flammable ecosystems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20, 387394.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bond, W.J. and Midgley, J.J. (2003) The evolutionary ecology of sprouting in woody plants. International Journal of Plant Sciences 164, 103114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bradshaw, S.D., Dixon, K.W., Hopper, S.D., Lambers, H. and Turner, S.R. (2011) Little evidence for fire-adapted plant traits in Mediterranean climate regions. Trends in Plant Science 16, 6976.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bradstock, R.A. and Auld, T.D. (1995) Soil temperatures during experimental bushfires in relation to fire intensity: consequences for legume germination and fire management in South-Eastern Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 32, 7684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carrington, M.E. (2010) Effects of soil temperature during fire on seed survival in Florida sand pine scrub. International Journal of Forestry Research. doi: 10.1155/2010/402346 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Choczynska, J. and Johnson, E.A. (2009) A soil heat and water transfer model to predict belowground grass rhizome bud death in a grass fire. Journal of Vegetation Science 20, 277287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coutinho, L.M. (1982) Ecological effects of fire. In Huntley, B.J. and Walker, B.H. (eds), Ecology of Tropical Savannas, pp. 273291. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Daldegan, G.A., Carvalho Júnior, O.A., Guimarães, R.F., Gomes, R.A.T., Ribeiro, F.F. and McManus, C. (2014) Spatial patterns of fire recurrence using remote sensing and GIS in the Brazilian savanna: Serra do Tombador Nature Reserve, Brazil. Remote Sensing 6, 98739894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Daniell, J.W., Chappell, W.E. and Couch, H.B. (1969) Effect of sublethal and lethal temperatures on plant cells. Plant Physiology 44, 16841689.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dayamba, S.D., Savadogo, P., Zida, D., Sawadogo, L., Tiveau, D. and Oden, PC. (2010) Fire temperature and residence time during dry season burning in a Sudanian savanna-woodland of West Africa with implication for seed germination. Journal of Forestry Research 21, 445450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dodonov, P., Xavier, R.O., Tiberio, F.C.S., Lucena, I.C., Zanelli, C.B. and Matos, D.M.S. (2014) Driving factors of small-scale variability in a savanna plant population after a fire. Acta Oecologica 56, 4755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fichino, B., Dombrovski, J.R.G., Pivello, V.R. and Fidelis, A. (2016) Does fire trigger seed germination in the Neotropical savannas? Experimental tests with six Cerrado species. Biotropica 48, 181187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fidelis, A. and Blanco, C. (2014) Does fire induce flowering in Brazilian subtropical grasslands? Applied Vegetation Science 17, 690699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finch-Savage, W.E. and Leubner-Metzger, G. (2006) Seed dormancy and the control of germination. New Phytologist 171, 501523.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fundação Grupo Boticário (2011) Plano de Manejo da Reserva Natural Serra do Tombador. Supervisor: G.A. Gatti. Curitiba, Brazil. Available at: Google Scholar
Furley, P.A. (1999) The nature and diversity of neotropical savanna vegetation with particular reference to the Brazilian cerrados. Global Ecology and Biogeography 8, 223241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gagnon, P.R., Harms, K.E., Platt, W.J., Passmore, H.A. and Myers, J.A. (2012) Small-scale variation in fuel loads differentially affects two co-dominant bunchgrasses in a species-rich pine savanna. PLoS ONE 7, e29674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gagnon, P.R., Passmore, H.A., Slocum, M., Myers, J.A., Harms, K.E., Platt, W.J. and Paine, C.E.T. (2015) Fuels and fires influence vegetation via above- and belowground pathways in a high-diversity plant community. Journal of Ecology 103, 10091019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gama-Arachchige, N.S., Baskin, J.M., Geneve, R.L. and Baskin, C.C. (2012) The autumn effect: timing of physical dormancy break in seeds of two winter annual species of Geraniaceae by a stepwise process. Annals of Botany 110, 637651.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gorgone-Barbosa, E., Pivello, V.R., Bautista, S., Zupo, T., Rissi, M.N. and Fidelis, A. (2015) How can an invasive grass affect fire behavior in a tropical savanna? A community and individual plant level approach. Biological Invasions 17, 423431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grubb, P. J. (1977) The maintenance of species-richness in plant communities: the importance of the regeneration niche. Biological Reviews 52, 107145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Herranz, J.M., Ferrandis, P. and Martínez-Sánchez, J.J. (1998) Influence of heat on seed germination of seven Mediterranean Leguminosae species. Plant Ecology 136, 95103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoffmann, W.A. (2000) Post-establishment seedling success in the Brazilian Cerrado: a comparison of savanna and forest species. Biotropica 32, 6269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hothorn, T., Bretz, F. and Westfall, P. (2008) Simultaneous inference in general parametric models. Biometrical Journal 50, 346363.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jaganathan, G.K. (2015) Are wildfires an adapted ecological cue breaking physical dormancy in the Mediterranean basin? Seed Science Research 25, 120126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jaureguiberry, P. and Díaz, S. (2015) Post-burning regeneration of the Chaco seasonally dry forest: germination response of dominant species to experimental heat shock. Oecologia 177, 689699.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jayasuriya, K.M.G.G., Athugala, Y.S., Wijayasinghe, M.M., Baskin, J.M., Baskin, C.C. and Mahadevan, N. (2015) The crypsis hypothesis: a stenopic view of the selective factors in the evolution of physical dormancy in seeds. Seed Science Research 25, 127137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jayasuriya, K.M.G.G., Baskin, J.M. and Baskin, C.C. (2009) Sensitivity cycling and its ecological role in seeds with physical dormancy. Seed Science Research 19, 313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jayasuriya, K.M.G.G., Wijetunga, A.S.T.B., Baskin, J.M. and Baskin, C.C. (2013) Seed dormancy and storage behaviour in tropical Fabaceae: a study of 100 species from Sri Lanka. Seed Science Research 23, 257269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kauffman, J.B., Cummings, D.L. and Ward, D.E. (1994) Relationships of fire, biomass and nutrient dynamics along a vegetation gradient in the Brazilian Cerrado. Journal of Ecology 82, 519531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keeley, J.E., Pausas, J.G., Rundel, P.W., Bond, W.J. and Bradstock, R.A. (2011) Fire as an evolutionary pressure shaping plant traits. Trends in Plant Science 16, 406411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Knox, K.J.E. and Clarke, P.J. (2006) Fire season and intensity affect shrub recruitment in temperate sclerophyllous woodlands. Oecologia 149, 730739.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lakon, G. (1949) The topographical tetrazolium method for determining the germination capacity of seeds. Plant Physiology 24, 389394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Le Stradic, S., Silveira, F.A.O., Buisson, E., Cazelles, K., Carvalho, V. and Fernandes, G.W. (2015) Diversity of germination strategies and seed dormancy in herbaceous species of campo rupestre grasslands. Austral Ecology 40, 537546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Liyanage, G.S. and Ooi, M.K.J. (2017) Do dormancy-breaking temperature thresholds change as seeds age in the soil seed bank? Seed Science Research. doi: 10.1017/S0960258516000271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miranda, A.C., Miranda, H.S., Dias, I.F.O and Dias, B.F.S. (1993) Soil and air temperatures during prescribed cerrado fires in Central Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology 9, 313320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miranda, H.S., Sato, M.N., Neto, W.N. and Aires, F.S. (2009) Fires in the cerrado, the Brazilian savanna. In Cochrane, M.A. (ed), Tropical Fire Ecology: Climate change, Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics, pp. 427450. Berlin: Springer-Praxis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moreira, B. and Pausas, J.G. (2012) Tanned or burned: the role of fire in shaping physical seed dormancy. PLoS ONE 7, e51523.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Moreira, B., Tormo, J., Estrelles, E. and Pausas, J.G. (2010) Disentangling the role of heat and smoke as germination cues in Mediterranean Basin flora. Annals of Botany 105, 627635.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Moreno-Casasola, P., Grime, J.P. and Martínez, M.L. (1994) A comparative study of the effects of fluctuations in temperature and moisture supply on hard coat dormancy in seeds of coastal tropical legumes in Mexico. Journal of Tropical Ecology 10, 6786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oliveira-Filho, A.T. and Ratter, J.A. (2002) Vegetation physiognomies and woody flora of the Cerrado biome. In Oliveira, P.S. and Marquis, R.J. (eds), The Cerrados of Brazil: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Savanna, pp. 91120. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ooi, M.K.J., Denham, A.J., Santana, V.M. and Auld, T.D. (2014) Temperature thresholds of physically dormant seeds and plant functional response to fire: variation among species and relative impact of climate change. Ecology and Evolution 4, 656671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Parr, C.L., Lehmann, C.E.R., Bond, W.J., Hoffmann, W.A. and Andersen, A.N. (2014) Tropical grassy biomes: misunderstood, neglected, and under threat. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29, 205213.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
R Core Team (2016) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Available at: Google ScholarPubMed
Ramos-Neto, M.B. and Pivello, V.R. (2000) Lightning fires in a Brazilian savanna national park: Rethinking management strategies. Environmental Management 26, 675684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reyes, O. and Trabaud, L. (2009) Germination behaviour of 14 Mediterranean species in relation to fire factors: smoke and heat. Plant Ecology 202, 113121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ribeiro, L.C., Barbosa, E.R.M., van Langevelde, F. and Borghetti, F. (2015) The importance of seed mass for the tolerance to heat shocks of savanna and forest tree species. Journal of Vegetation Science 26, 11021111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rolston, M.P. (1978) Water impermeable seed dormancy. The Botanical Review 44, 365396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Santana, V.M., Baeza, M.J. and Blanes, M.C. (2013) Clarifying the role of fire heat and daily temperature fluctuations as germination cues for Mediterranean Basin obligate seeders. Annals of Botany 111, 127134.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Santana, V.M., Bradstock, R.A., Ooi, M.K.J., Denham, A.J., Auld, T.D. and Baeza, M.J. (2010) Effects of soil temperature regimes after fire on seed dormancy and germination in six Australian Fabaceae species. Australian Journal of Botany 58, 539545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scott, K., Setterfield, S., Douglas, M. and Andersen, A. (2010) Soil seed banks confer resilience to savanna grass-layer plants during seasonal disturbance. Acta Oecologica 36, 202210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Simon, M.F., Grether, R., Queiroz, L.P., Skema, C., Pennington, R.T. and Hughes, C. (2009) Recent assembly of the Cerrado, a neotropical plant diversity hotspot, by in situ evolution of adaptations to fire. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106, 2035920364.Google Scholar
van Assche, J.A., Debucquoy, K.L.A. and Rommens, W.A.F. (2003) Seasonal cycles in the germination capacity of buried seeds of some Leguminosae (Fabaceae). New Phytologist 158, 315323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Klinken, R.D., Flack, L.K. and Pettit, W. (2006) Wet-season dormancy release in seed banks of a tropical leguminous shrub is determined by wet heat. Annals of Botany 98, 875883.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Klinken, R.D. and Goulier, J.B. (2013) Habitat-specific seed dormancy-release mechanisms in four legume species. Seed Science Research 23, 181188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whelan, R.J. (1995) The Ecology of Fire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google ScholarPubMed
Willis, C.G., Baskin, C.C., Baskin, J.M., Auld, J.R., Venable, D.L., Cavender-Bares, J., Donohue, K., Casa, R.R. and The NESCent Germination Working Group (2014) The evolution of seed dormancy environmental cues, evolutionary hubs, and diversification of the seed plants. New Phytologist 203, 300309.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Zupo, T., Baeza, M.J. and Fidelis, A. (2016) The effect of simulated heat-shock and daily temperature fluctuations on seed germination of four species from fire-prone ecosystems. Acta Botanica Brasilica 30, 514519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

A field perspective on effects of fire and temperature fluctuation on Cerrado legume seeds
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

A field perspective on effects of fire and temperature fluctuation on Cerrado legume seeds
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

A field perspective on effects of fire and temperature fluctuation on Cerrado legume seeds
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *