Bark thickness does not explain the different susceptibility of Australian and New Zealand temperate rain forests to anthropogenic fire

Michael Lawes, Sarah Richardson, Peter J Clarke, Jeremy J Midgley, Matt McGlone, Peter Bellingham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Aim: Anthropogenic fires caused New Zealand's temperate rain forests to decline rapidly from 80% to 50% cover after Polynesian arrival. In contrast, Australian temperate rain forests have remained stable in spite of a longer history of fire and human occupation. We evaluate whether New Zealand's conifer-dominated forests declined because they lack fire resistance traits. We predicted that New Zealand species should have thinner bark than their Australian counterparts, and slower growing conifers should have relatively thicker bark than angiosperms. 


    Location: Temperate rain forests of south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. 


    Methods: We examined the ratio of bark thickness to stem diameter (relative bark thickness) as a standardized index (by tree size) of fire resistance. Nonlinear power models were fitted to examine trends in relative bark thickness between trees from New Zealand and Australia. Bark thickness was also compared between species pairs and congeners and by phylogenetically corrected ANOVA. 


    Results: Although angiosperms and gymnosperms in New Zealand had thin bark in a global context, they had significantly thicker bark than their Australian counterparts. Bark thickened more rapidly for small trees in New Zealand but declined with increasing stem diameter. Allocation to bark thickness was greater for larger stems in Australia. New Zealand gymnosperms had the thickest bark of all species examined. 


    Main conclusions: Fire resistance is a complex syndrome comprising functional traits that ensure protection (resistance - bark) from and recovery (resilience - resprouting) after fire. Thin bark in temperate rain forests suggests weak selection by fire on bark traits. However, the stability of Australian temperate forests in a flammable landscape emphasizes the importance of resprouting, especially basal resprouting, to forest persistence after fire. New Zealand forests do not resprout after fire and lack the fire resistance traits required for recovery from repeated anthropogenic fires. 

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1467-1477
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Biogeography
    Volume41
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Fingerprint

    temperate forests
    bark
    rain forests
    resprouting
    fire resistance
    angiosperm
    Angiospermae
    rain forest
    stem
    stems
    gymnosperm
    temperate forest
    rainforest
    conifers
    coniferous tree
    occupation
    persistence
    analysis of variance
    new species
    rain

    Cite this

    Lawes, Michael ; Richardson, Sarah ; Clarke, Peter J ; Midgley, Jeremy J ; McGlone, Matt ; Bellingham, Peter. / Bark thickness does not explain the different susceptibility of Australian and New Zealand temperate rain forests to anthropogenic fire. In: Journal of Biogeography. 2014 ; Vol. 41, No. 8. pp. 1467-1477.
    @article{d3e8765a372547d0a16408ed18b22fe1,
    title = "Bark thickness does not explain the different susceptibility of Australian and New Zealand temperate rain forests to anthropogenic fire",
    abstract = "Aim: Anthropogenic fires caused New Zealand's temperate rain forests to decline rapidly from 80{\%} to 50{\%} cover after Polynesian arrival. In contrast, Australian temperate rain forests have remained stable in spite of a longer history of fire and human occupation. We evaluate whether New Zealand's conifer-dominated forests declined because they lack fire resistance traits. We predicted that New Zealand species should have thinner bark than their Australian counterparts, and slower growing conifers should have relatively thicker bark than angiosperms.  Location: Temperate rain forests of south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.  Methods: We examined the ratio of bark thickness to stem diameter (relative bark thickness) as a standardized index (by tree size) of fire resistance. Nonlinear power models were fitted to examine trends in relative bark thickness between trees from New Zealand and Australia. Bark thickness was also compared between species pairs and congeners and by phylogenetically corrected ANOVA.  Results: Although angiosperms and gymnosperms in New Zealand had thin bark in a global context, they had significantly thicker bark than their Australian counterparts. Bark thickened more rapidly for small trees in New Zealand but declined with increasing stem diameter. Allocation to bark thickness was greater for larger stems in Australia. New Zealand gymnosperms had the thickest bark of all species examined.  Main conclusions: Fire resistance is a complex syndrome comprising functional traits that ensure protection (resistance - bark) from and recovery (resilience - resprouting) after fire. Thin bark in temperate rain forests suggests weak selection by fire on bark traits. However, the stability of Australian temperate forests in a flammable landscape emphasizes the importance of resprouting, especially basal resprouting, to forest persistence after fire. New Zealand forests do not resprout after fire and lack the fire resistance traits required for recovery from repeated anthropogenic fires. ",
    keywords = "anthropogenic effect, bark, coniferous forest, environmental disturbance, forest fire, population decline, rainforest, temperate forest, Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia",
    author = "Michael Lawes and Sarah Richardson and Clarke, {Peter J} and Midgley, {Jeremy J} and Matt McGlone and Peter Bellingham",
    year = "2014",
    doi = "10.1111/jbi.12292",
    language = "English",
    volume = "41",
    pages = "1467--1477",
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    }

    Bark thickness does not explain the different susceptibility of Australian and New Zealand temperate rain forests to anthropogenic fire. / Lawes, Michael; Richardson, Sarah; Clarke, Peter J; Midgley, Jeremy J; McGlone, Matt; Bellingham, Peter.

    In: Journal of Biogeography, Vol. 41, No. 8, 2014, p. 1467-1477.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Bark thickness does not explain the different susceptibility of Australian and New Zealand temperate rain forests to anthropogenic fire

    AU - Lawes, Michael

    AU - Richardson, Sarah

    AU - Clarke, Peter J

    AU - Midgley, Jeremy J

    AU - McGlone, Matt

    AU - Bellingham, Peter

    PY - 2014

    Y1 - 2014

    N2 - Aim: Anthropogenic fires caused New Zealand's temperate rain forests to decline rapidly from 80% to 50% cover after Polynesian arrival. In contrast, Australian temperate rain forests have remained stable in spite of a longer history of fire and human occupation. We evaluate whether New Zealand's conifer-dominated forests declined because they lack fire resistance traits. We predicted that New Zealand species should have thinner bark than their Australian counterparts, and slower growing conifers should have relatively thicker bark than angiosperms.  Location: Temperate rain forests of south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.  Methods: We examined the ratio of bark thickness to stem diameter (relative bark thickness) as a standardized index (by tree size) of fire resistance. Nonlinear power models were fitted to examine trends in relative bark thickness between trees from New Zealand and Australia. Bark thickness was also compared between species pairs and congeners and by phylogenetically corrected ANOVA.  Results: Although angiosperms and gymnosperms in New Zealand had thin bark in a global context, they had significantly thicker bark than their Australian counterparts. Bark thickened more rapidly for small trees in New Zealand but declined with increasing stem diameter. Allocation to bark thickness was greater for larger stems in Australia. New Zealand gymnosperms had the thickest bark of all species examined.  Main conclusions: Fire resistance is a complex syndrome comprising functional traits that ensure protection (resistance - bark) from and recovery (resilience - resprouting) after fire. Thin bark in temperate rain forests suggests weak selection by fire on bark traits. However, the stability of Australian temperate forests in a flammable landscape emphasizes the importance of resprouting, especially basal resprouting, to forest persistence after fire. New Zealand forests do not resprout after fire and lack the fire resistance traits required for recovery from repeated anthropogenic fires. 

    AB - Aim: Anthropogenic fires caused New Zealand's temperate rain forests to decline rapidly from 80% to 50% cover after Polynesian arrival. In contrast, Australian temperate rain forests have remained stable in spite of a longer history of fire and human occupation. We evaluate whether New Zealand's conifer-dominated forests declined because they lack fire resistance traits. We predicted that New Zealand species should have thinner bark than their Australian counterparts, and slower growing conifers should have relatively thicker bark than angiosperms.  Location: Temperate rain forests of south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.  Methods: We examined the ratio of bark thickness to stem diameter (relative bark thickness) as a standardized index (by tree size) of fire resistance. Nonlinear power models were fitted to examine trends in relative bark thickness between trees from New Zealand and Australia. Bark thickness was also compared between species pairs and congeners and by phylogenetically corrected ANOVA.  Results: Although angiosperms and gymnosperms in New Zealand had thin bark in a global context, they had significantly thicker bark than their Australian counterparts. Bark thickened more rapidly for small trees in New Zealand but declined with increasing stem diameter. Allocation to bark thickness was greater for larger stems in Australia. New Zealand gymnosperms had the thickest bark of all species examined.  Main conclusions: Fire resistance is a complex syndrome comprising functional traits that ensure protection (resistance - bark) from and recovery (resilience - resprouting) after fire. Thin bark in temperate rain forests suggests weak selection by fire on bark traits. However, the stability of Australian temperate forests in a flammable landscape emphasizes the importance of resprouting, especially basal resprouting, to forest persistence after fire. New Zealand forests do not resprout after fire and lack the fire resistance traits required for recovery from repeated anthropogenic fires. 

    KW - anthropogenic effect

    KW - bark

    KW - coniferous forest

    KW - environmental disturbance

    KW - forest fire

    KW - population decline

    KW - rainforest

    KW - temperate forest

    KW - Australia

    KW - New Zealand

    KW - Polynesia

    U2 - 10.1111/jbi.12292

    DO - 10.1111/jbi.12292

    M3 - Article

    VL - 41

    SP - 1467

    EP - 1477

    JO - Journal of Biogeography

    JF - Journal of Biogeography

    SN - 0305-0270

    IS - 8

    ER -