Do fires in savannas consume woody biomass? A comment on approaches to modeling savanna dynamics

N Hanan, William Sea, Gerhard Dangelmayr, Navashni Govender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Savanna ecosystems have long been fertile ground for mathematical modeling of vegetation structure and the role of resources and disturbance in tree-grass coexistence. In recent years, several authors have presented models that explore how savanna fires suppress the woody community, alter ecosystem dynamics, and promote grass persistence. We argue, however, that the assumption that fires influence savanna dynamics by consuming woody biomass may be wrong because, in reality, fires kill seedlings and saplings that constitute little biomass relative to adult trees. We present a simple alternative that separates the woody community into a subadult (fire-sensitive) class and an adult (fire-resistant) class and explore how this ecologically more realistic, but still simplified, model may provide better simulations of demographic processes and response to fires in savannas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-856
Number of pages6
JournalThe American Naturalist
Volume171
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

savanna
savannas
biomass
modeling
grass
grasses
ecosystem dynamics
ecosystems
vegetation structure
sapling
saplings
coexistence
mathematical models
demographic statistics
persistence
seedling
disturbance
seedlings
ecosystem
resource

Cite this

Hanan, N ; Sea, William ; Dangelmayr, Gerhard ; Govender, Navashni. / Do fires in savannas consume woody biomass? A comment on approaches to modeling savanna dynamics. In: The American Naturalist. 2008 ; Vol. 171. pp. 851-856.
@article{1b643b84c8af4f68bfb45abd33795293,
title = "Do fires in savannas consume woody biomass? A comment on approaches to modeling savanna dynamics",
abstract = "Savanna ecosystems have long been fertile ground for mathematical modeling of vegetation structure and the role of resources and disturbance in tree-grass coexistence. In recent years, several authors have presented models that explore how savanna fires suppress the woody community, alter ecosystem dynamics, and promote grass persistence. We argue, however, that the assumption that fires influence savanna dynamics by consuming woody biomass may be wrong because, in reality, fires kill seedlings and saplings that constitute little biomass relative to adult trees. We present a simple alternative that separates the woody community into a subadult (fire-sensitive) class and an adult (fire-resistant) class and explore how this ecologically more realistic, but still simplified, model may provide better simulations of demographic processes and response to fires in savannas.",
keywords = "savanna, fire, species coexistence, tree-grass interactions, multiple stable states, population model.",
author = "N Hanan and William Sea and Gerhard Dangelmayr and Navashni Govender",
year = "2008",
doi = "10.1086/587527",
language = "English",
volume = "171",
pages = "851--856",
journal = "American Naturalist",
issn = "0003-0147",
publisher = "University of Chicago",

}

Do fires in savannas consume woody biomass? A comment on approaches to modeling savanna dynamics. / Hanan, N; Sea, William; Dangelmayr, Gerhard; Govender, Navashni.

In: The American Naturalist, Vol. 171, 2008, p. 851-856.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do fires in savannas consume woody biomass? A comment on approaches to modeling savanna dynamics

AU - Hanan, N

AU - Sea, William

AU - Dangelmayr, Gerhard

AU - Govender, Navashni

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - Savanna ecosystems have long been fertile ground for mathematical modeling of vegetation structure and the role of resources and disturbance in tree-grass coexistence. In recent years, several authors have presented models that explore how savanna fires suppress the woody community, alter ecosystem dynamics, and promote grass persistence. We argue, however, that the assumption that fires influence savanna dynamics by consuming woody biomass may be wrong because, in reality, fires kill seedlings and saplings that constitute little biomass relative to adult trees. We present a simple alternative that separates the woody community into a subadult (fire-sensitive) class and an adult (fire-resistant) class and explore how this ecologically more realistic, but still simplified, model may provide better simulations of demographic processes and response to fires in savannas.

AB - Savanna ecosystems have long been fertile ground for mathematical modeling of vegetation structure and the role of resources and disturbance in tree-grass coexistence. In recent years, several authors have presented models that explore how savanna fires suppress the woody community, alter ecosystem dynamics, and promote grass persistence. We argue, however, that the assumption that fires influence savanna dynamics by consuming woody biomass may be wrong because, in reality, fires kill seedlings and saplings that constitute little biomass relative to adult trees. We present a simple alternative that separates the woody community into a subadult (fire-sensitive) class and an adult (fire-resistant) class and explore how this ecologically more realistic, but still simplified, model may provide better simulations of demographic processes and response to fires in savannas.

KW - savanna

KW - fire

KW - species coexistence

KW - tree-grass interactions

KW - multiple stable states

KW - population model.

U2 - 10.1086/587527

DO - 10.1086/587527

M3 - Article

VL - 171

SP - 851

EP - 856

JO - American Naturalist

JF - American Naturalist

SN - 0003-0147

ER -