Effects of fire on pyrodiversity of terricolous non-tracheophytes photoautotrophs in a páramo of southern Ecuador

Yangua-Solano E., Carrión-Paladines V. & Benítez Á.
15(12): 1176 [15 p.]
The páramos have a great diversity of flora, including terricolous non-tracheophyte photoautotrophs (bryophytes and lichens). Bryophytes and lichens are very sensitive to environmental changes related to anthropogenic fires, livestock, and agricultural activities. We determined for the first time in Ecuador the effects of prescribed fires on the pyrodiversity of terricolous non-tracheophyte photoautotroph in a páramo of South Ecuador. Three permanent sampling plots (T1, T2, and control) were established, each with a dimension of 4 m × 20 m and separated by 3 m (T1: one with fire-induced uphill and T2: one with fire-induced downhill and one control). They were installed in three different blocks, obtaining a total of nine plots. Three samplings (2, 6, and 12 months) were carried out in each plot, where the cover and richness of terricolous bryophytes and lichens were estimated in 216 quadrats of 20 × 30 cm. A total of 27 species (11 lichens and 16 bryophytes) were studied, where the lichen families, that is, Cladoniaceae and Baeomycetaceae, as well as the bryophytes families, namely, Dicranaceae, Jungermanniaceae, Bartramiaceae, Rhacocarpaceae, and Pallaviciniaceae, have been recorded as pioneers in areas under fire effects. Richness and diversity (calculated using the Shannon–Weaver and Simpson indexes) were affected by fire treatments; on the other hand, monitoring time (M3) positively affected species diversity. The composition of terrestrial non-tracheophyte photoautotroph communities showed slight changes between the control and T1 and T2, but the changes were more marked with time after the burns (M1 vs. M3), related to fire severity. Therefore, terricolous lichen and bryophyte communities (richness and diversity) can be used as model organisms for the assessment of the effects of prescribed fires on tropical páramos for subsequent management and conservation. Keywords: páramos; prescribed fires; bryophytes; lichens; non-tracheophyte photoautotrophs.
Wednesday, 29 November 2023 00:02