A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

A unified framework for plant life-history strategies shaped by fire and herbivory

Author(s): Sally Archibald, Gareth P. Hempson, Caroline E. R. Lehmann
Year Published: 2019

Fire and herbivory both remove aboveground biomass. Environmental factors determine the type and intensity of these consumers globally, but the traits of plants can also alter their propensity to burn and the degree to which they are eaten. To understand plant life‐history strategies associated with fire and herbivory we need to describe both response and effect functional traits, and how they sort within communities, along resource gradients, and across evolutionary timescales. Fire and herbivore functional traits are generally considered separately, but there are advances made in understanding fire that relate to herbivory, and vice versa. Moreover, fire and herbivory interact: the presence of one consumer affects the type and intensity of the other. Here, we present a unifying conceptual framework to understand plant strategies that enable tolerance and persistence to fire and herbivory. Using grasses as an example, we discuss how flammability and fire tolerance, palatability, and grazing tolerance traits might organize themselves in ecosystems exposed to these consumers, and how these traits might have evolved with reference to other strong selective processes, like aridity. Our framework can be used to predict both the diversity of life‐history strategies and plant species diversity under different consumer regimes.

Citation: Archibald, Sally; Hempson, Gareth P.; Lehmann, Caroline E. R. 2019. A unified framework for plant life-history strategies shaped by fire and herbivory. New Phytologist 224(4):1490-1503. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nph.15986
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire Effects
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20554
FRAMES RCS number: 59091
Record updated: Jan 7, 2020