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Notes and Discussion Effects of Smoke and Fire-related Cues on Penstemon barbatus Seeds

Summary: Notes and Discussion
Effects of Smoke and Fire-related Cues on Penstemon barbatus Seeds
ABSTRACT.--Previous research has found that exposure to fire-related cues enhances
germination of some plant species, and such species may exist in frequent-fire southwestern
United States Pinus ponderosa forests. I performed four greenhouse experiments with Penstemon
barbatus, a perennial forb common in P. ponderosa forests, testing seed responses to liquid and
air smoke, charred P. ponderosa wood and leachate, heat and emergence substrates. Liquid
smoke increased P. barbatus emergence to as high as 63%, 44% greater than controls, and
enhanced emergence in all 4 experiments. Air smoke produced by burning P. ponderosa litter
for 15 min appeared to increase emergence similar to liquid smoke. In contrast, P. ponderosa
charred wood and charred wood leachate did not improve emergence, and sometimes
inhibited positive effects of smoke. Heating samples at 100 C for 30 min did not affect
emergence. Substrate and liquid smoke interacted in one experiment, with smoke increasing
emergence more sharply on basalt and potting soil than on limestone soil. These greenhouse
findings have practical implications for germinating P. barbatus, but need testing under
field conditions to evaluate their importance in this species' population biology after fire in
P. ponderosa forests.
Seeds of some plant species inhabiting fire-prone ecosystems are thought to have evolved responses to
fire cues triggering germination (Keeley, 1991; Dixon et al., 1995; Van Staden et al., 2000). These cues


Source: Abella, Scott R. - School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada at Las Vegas


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology