Frequent wildfires modify genetic structure in Pinus halepensis

The recurrence of wildfires is predicted to increase due to global climate change. Budde et al. examine the population genetic effects of frequent fires in natural stands of the fire-adapted Mediterranean tree Pinus halepensis (Pinaceae) and find that genetic diversity was preserved despite frequent fires.

Study stands of Pinus halepensis in the Eastern Iberian Peninsula belong to different ecoregions.
Study stands of Pinus halepensis in the Eastern Iberian Peninsula belong to different ecoregions. Coastal stands experience a high frequency of crown fires (HiFi) while inland stands experience a low frequency (LoFi).

However, nearby trees were more closely related than in control stands, a likely consequence of clumped recruitment after fire. Some genetic markers displayed evidence of selection between or within stands. More frequent wildfires can act as selective drivers, altering recruitment in P. halepensis and plants with similar life history traits.

Reference List

Budde, K. B., González-Martínez, S. C., Navascués, M., Burgarella, C., Mosca, E., Lorenzo, Z., … Heuertz, M. (2017). Increased fire frequency promotes stronger spatial genetic structure and natural selection at regional and local scales in Pinus halepensis Mill. Annals of Botany, 119(6), 1061–1072. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw286