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Plant traits – the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants and their organs – determine how primary producers respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, influence ecosystem processes and services and provide a link from species richness to ecosystem functional diversity. Trait data(More)
It is difficult to find references to fire in general textbooks on ecology, conservation biology or biogeography, in spite of the fact that large parts of the world burn on a regular basis, and that there is a considerable literature on the ecology of fire and its use for managing ecosystems. Fire has been burning ecosystems for hundreds of millions of(More)
Until recently, large apex consumers were ubiquitous across the globe and had been for millions of years. The loss of these animals may be humankind's most pervasive influence on nature. Although such losses are widely viewed as an ethical and aesthetic problem, recent research reveals extensive cascading effects of their disappearance in marine,(More)
We develop a geometric model predicting that maximum seedling emergence depth should scale as the cube root of seed weight. We tested the prediction by planting seeds from 17 species ranging in weight from 0.1 to 100 mg at a variety of depths in a sand medium. The species were spread across 16 genera and 13 families, all occurring in fire-prone fynbos(More)
This paper is the first global study of the extent to which fire determines global vegetation patterns by preventing ecosystems from achieving the potential height, biomass and dominant functional types expected under the ambient climate (climate potential). To determine climate potential, we simulated vegetation without fire using a dynamic(More)
In frequently burnt mesic savannas, trees can get trapped into a cycle of surviving fire-induced stem death (i.e. topkill) by resprouting, only to be topkilled again a year or two later. The ability of savanna saplings to resprout repeatedly after fire is a key component of recent models of tree–grass coexistence in savannas. This study investigated the(More)
Stable carbon (d 13 C) and nitrogen (d 15 N) isotope ratios are commonly used to reconstruct palaeodiets and palaeoenvironments. The method is based on our knowledge of isotopic patterns in plants, which are subject to taxonomic and environmental variability. While previous researchers have addressed isotopic variability amongst plants, no studies have(More)
Many Cape Proteaceae store seed reserves in closed cones on the plant and rely entirely on these reserves for episodic recruitment after fires. Population size is sensitive to intervals between fires but also to fire season. Populations can be nearly eliminated by successive winter or spring fires. Three hypotheses explaining seasonal variation in(More)
Traits, such as resprouting, serotiny and germination by heat and smoke, are adaptive in fire-prone environments. However, plants are not adapted to fire per se but to fire regimes. Species can be threatened when humans alter the regime, often by increasing or decreasing fire frequency. Fire-adaptive traits are potentially the result of different(More)
• We aimed to identify the limits of savanna across Africa, Australia and South America. We based our investigation on the rich history of hypotheses previously examined: that the limits of savanna are variously determined by rainfall, rainfall seasonality, soil fertility and disturbance. • We categorized vegetation on all continents as 'savanna' (open(More)