The effect of stand age and microhabitat on soil seed banks in Mediterranean Aleppo pine forests after fire

Gidi Ne'eman, Ido Izhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soil samples from three microhabitats (gaps, beneath shrubs and beneath trees) in five stands of various post-fire ages (6-55 years) were collected in an east Mediterranean Aleppo pine Pinus halepensis forest. Total germinable seed bank densities varied between 300 and 1300 seeds per m2. Herbaceous taxa were the major constituents of the germinable seed bank in gaps, regardless of stand age. Perennials were the major components beneath shrubs in all stands except the youngest stand where herbaceous species were the major components in all microhabitats. Important tree and shrub species (e.g., Pinus halepensis, Quercus calliprinos, Pistacia lentiscus, Phillyrea latifolia) of the mature pine forest were not an important component of the soil seed bank and therefore, little resemblance was observed between the above-ground plant species composition and soil seed bank composition. This is consistent with the fact that these species regenerate by resprouting rather than by germination from the seed bank. Both microhabitats and forest-stands, which were of different ages, contributed to the variation in taxa richness, germinable seed density and diversity among samples. The effect of small-scale spatial heterogeneity (among microhabitats) was much more pronounced. In contrast to other studies, species richness, species diversity, and density of seed banks did not decrease with post-fire age. Moreover, stand age was a poor predictor for these attributes of the soil seed bank in an Aleppo pine forest. The heterogeneity plays an important role in conservation and management of this ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Tami Keren, Yossi Sivan, Nava Henig-Sever and Ela Tsahar for conducting all of the experimental work. This study was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Science and the Arts Israel and from GSF – Forschungszentrum fuer Umwelt und Gesundheit GmbH, Neuherberg, Germany.


  • Aleppo pine forest
  • Fire
  • Germination
  • Microhabitat
  • Seed bank
  • Spatial heterogeneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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