J Plant Ecol ›› 2020, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (2): 177-184.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtz060

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Impact of forest fire on soil seed bank composition in Himalayan Chir pine forest

Bobbymoore Konsam1, Shyam S. Phartyal1,2, * and Nagendra P. Todaria1   

  1. 1Department of Forestry and Natural Resource, H.N.B. Garhwal University, Srinagar-Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India, 2 School of Ecology and Environment Studies (SEES), Nalanda University, Rajgir, Bihar, India

    *Corresponding author. E-mail: shyamphartyal@gmail.com
  • Received:2019-05-10 Revised:2019-12-19 Accepted:2019-12-24 Online:2019-12-27 Published:2020-04-01



To explain how plant community copes with a recurring anthropogenic forest fire in Himalayan Chir pine forest, it is important to understand their postfire regeneration strategies. The primary aim of the study was to know: (i) how fire impact soil seed bank composition and (ii) how much soil seed bank composition differs with standing vegetation after the forest fire.


Soil samples were collected from burned and adjoining unburned sites in blocks using three layers down to 9 cm depth immediately after a forest fire and incubated in the net-house for seedling emergence. Same sites were revisited during late monsoon/early autumn season to know the species composition of standing vegetation recovered after a forest fire.

Important Findings

Soil contained viable seeds of >70 species. The average seed bank density was 8417 and 14 217 seeds/m2 in the burned and unburned site, respectively. In both sites, it decreased with increasing soil depth. Overall fire had no significant impact on seed density; however, taking individual layers into consideration, fire had a significant impact on seed density only in the uppermost soil layer. The species richness of soil seed bank and standing vegetation was 73 and 100, respectively (with 35 shared species), resulting in a similarity of about 40%. In contrast, >80% species in soil seed bank was found similar between burned and unburned sites. Further, there were no significant differences in species richness of standing vegetation in burned (87 spp.) and unburned (78 spp.) sites. Our results showed that fire had an insignificant impact on soil seed bank composition and restoration potential of a plant species from seeds. The understory herb and shrub plant community’s ability to form a fire-resistant viable soil seed bank and capable to recover in the postfire rainy season, explains how they reduce the risk of recurring fire damage in maintaining their population.

Key words: anthropogenic forest fire, Garhwal Himalaya, seed ecology, seed persistence, species diversity, species richness, understory plant community

了解植物群落火烧后的再生策略对于解释其如何应对喜马拉雅次生林中反复发生的人为森林火灾非常重要。本研究的主要目的是了解:1)火烧如何影响土壤种子库组成; 2)森林火灾后土壤种子库组成与立地植被的差异有多大。在森林火灾发生后,立即从火烧和相邻的未火烧地点收集土壤样本,并在净室中培养,以便出苗。在季风气候后期/初秋季节,我们再次探访这些地点,以了解森林火灾后恢复的植被的物种组成。研究结果表明,土壤中含有>70种的植物种子。火烧区和未火烧区种子库平均密度分别为8 417和14 217粒/m2,且均随土层深度的增加而减少。整体的火烧对种子密度无显著影响;但是,如果考虑土层因素,火烧只对最上层土壤的种子密度有显著影响。土壤种子库和立地植被的物种丰富度分别为73和100 (共有物种数为35),相似性约为40%。而在火烧区和未火烧区发现土壤种子库中>80%的物种相似。另外,火烧区(87)和未火烧区(78)立地植被的物种丰富度没有显著差异。本研究表明,火烧对土壤种子库组成和种子恢复潜力的影响不显著。下层草本植物和灌木植物群落有能力形成一个抗火烧的、有活力的土壤种子库,并有能力在火灾后的雨季恢复,这些发现也解释了它们是如何在维持其种群的同时减少了重复火灾带来损害的风险。

关键词: 人为森林火灾, 喜马拉雅, 种子生态学, 种子持久性, 物种多样性, 物种丰富度, 林下植物群落