African Restionaceae after a fire
Home » Heteroblasty adjusts plants to changing environments post fire

Heteroblasty adjusts plants to changing environments post fire

Heteroblastic species show an abrupt change in morphology at a fixed ontogenetic stage, and are relatively frequent in Mediterranean type ecosystems with regular fires. Using the Restionaceae from the southern African Cape flora, Ehmig et al. investigate the potential functional significance of heteroblasty, in particular in post-fire environments.

African Restionaceae after a fire

Fires result in enhanced nutrient and moisture availability during the first post-fire year; however, these advantages are soon lost with increasing vegetation density. Heteroblastic changes adjust the plants’ economic strategy to best utilize the nutrient spike, and deal with the subsequent impoverishment. Heteroblasty might be a previously unrecognized adaptation to fire-driven environments.

Alex Assiry

Alex Assiry is an editorial assistant in the Annals of Botany Office. When not working, Alex listens for the opportunity to help.

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