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Evolutionary fire ecology: An historical account and future directions

August 8, 2023

The idea that fire acts as an evolutionary force contributing to shaping species traits started a century ago, but had not been widely recognized until very recently. Among the first to realize this force were Edward B. Poulton, R. Dale Guthrie, and Edwin V. Komarek in animals and Willis L. Jepson, Walter W. Hough, Tom M. Harris, Philip V. Wells, and Robert W. Mutch in plants. They were all ahead of their time in their evolutionary thinking. Since then, evolutionary fire ecology has percolated very slowly into the mainstream ecology and evolutionary biology; in fact, this topic is still seldom mentioned in textbooks of ecology or evolution. Currently, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that we cannot understand the biodiversity of our planet without considering the key evolutionary role of fire. But there is still research to be done in order to fully understand fire's contribution to species evolution and to predicting species responses to rapid global changes.

Publication Year 2023
Title Evolutionary fire ecology: An historical account and future directions
DOI 10.1093/biosci/biad059
Authors Juli G. Pausas, Jon Keeley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title BioScience
Index ID 70247801
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center