Taxonomic and Functional Responses of Reptiles to Fire in the Mediterranean Basin

(by Xavier Santos)

Fire is a common disturbance in many regions of the world, and a fundamental element to understand ecosystem functioning and structure. Over the short term, fire may act as an environmental filter that selects species better adapted to the restrictive postfire conditions. Early postfire succession increases open areas; in these environments we expect that many reptiles would be favoured. According to the habitat-accommodation model of succession, reptiles are expected to replace each others in parallel to post-fire changes in habitat structure. Most studies to validate this model have been conducted in Australia, identifying early, medium and late reptile species on regard of their occurrence with respect to the time since fire. To test this model in the Mediterranean basin is challenge since responses may vary depending on particular life-history traits of species. During the last seven years, I focused my research on analyzing responses of reptile assemblages in six localities at the Western Mediterranean, in order to tackle the following questions: Are all reptile species favoured by fire? Which functional traits are selected by fire? How ecological specialization affects responses to fire? Are threatened species particularly affected by fire? Does fire affect Mediterranean and Atlantic species in a similar way? Does the reptile community follow the habitat-accommodation model of post-fire succession? My final objective is to translate my results to stakeholders and conservationists to design adequate guidelines to protect species from fire, especially under a future scenario of increasing fire frequency and extension.

Congress Collaborators

  • Cátia Venâncio
  • Sara Costa
  • Isabel Damas
  • Iolanda Rocha
  • Inês Bulhosa
  • Emanuele Fasola
  • Ariana Moutinho
  • Nuno Costa
  • Bárbara Santos
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