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Model predicts evolution of Mediterranean landscape following fires
Date:7/31/2009

An international research team has developed a mathematical and cartographical model that make it possible to view how Mediterranean landscapes evolve in the aftermath of forest fires. In order to carry out this research study, published recently in the journal Environmental Modelling & Software, the authors studied a Special Protection Area for Birds to the south west of Madrid.

"We have developed a model that shows on maps how various types of plants develop in a Mediterranean landscape, with the role of fire included as an integral feature in Mediterranean vegetation dynamics", Ral Romero Calcerrada, a researcher in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Technology at the King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, and co-author of the study published online in the journal Environmental Modelling & Software, tells SINC.

The area studied was Special Protection Area for Birds (SPAB) number 56, which covers the Holm oak woodland along the Alberche and Cofio rivers to the south west of Madrid. "Although these results could also be extrapolated to other Mediterranean regions", Romero points out.

The model is an original one, which predicts the most probable way in which vegetation will develop according to the variables introduced. It takes into consideration parameters such as the dispersal of plants (by shoots or seeds), their distribution over space and time, and the resources they compete for (primarily light and water).

Such ecosystems can generally evolve from grassland to scrubland (with rock rose, lavender and broom), later to transitional woodland (with pines, juniper and some Holm oaks) and finally to a Holm oak forest over a period of around 100 years. However, this evolution may be affected by a range of factors.

The results show, for example, that if the ground is dry, or there is a lack of Holm oak acorns, a burned area can turn into a pine forest within 30 years. However, in good water a
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Contact: SINC
info@plataformasinc.es
34-914-251-820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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