The Evolution of Physiological Adaptations in a Flammable Planet

  • Víctor Resco de Dios
Part of the Managing Forest Ecosystems book series (MAFE, volume 36)


Fire has been present on Earth since vascular plant expansion over land at the turn of the Devonian, 420 mya. It is thus to be expected that wildfires have shaped physiological plant traits. The question is which traits have evolved under fire activity and to which extent. Here we present the general hypothesis that plants have evolved bet hedging strategies, whenever possible, to jointly deal with the multiple stresses and disturbances they face during their evolutionary lifetimes. We also note that, in some instances, trade-offs in the adaptations to stress and disturbance have also developed. The traits that are most likely to have evolved in response to fire are related to post-fire recruitment and persistence. We argue that the evolution of these traits has also been shaped by drought and other environmental factors. We also discuss the evidence on whether plant traits that enhance flammability could have evolved in response to fire, but we find more plausible the explanation that plant traits affecting fire behavior emerge from plant responses to other environmental factors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Víctor Resco de Dios
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Life Science and EngineeringSouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina
  2. 2.Crop and Forest Sciences and JRU CTFC-AGROTECNIOUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain

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