Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Resprouting grasses are associated with less frequent fire than seeders


Simpson, Kimberley et al. (2020), Resprouting grasses are associated with less frequent fire than seeders, Dryad, Dataset,


  • Plant populations persist under recurrent fire via resprouting from surviving tissues (resprouters) or seedling recruitment (seeders). Woody species are inherently slow-maturing, meaning that seeders are confined to infrequent fire regimes. However, for grasses, which mature faster, the relationships between persistence strategy and fire regime remains unknown.
  • Globally, we analysed associations between fire regimes experienced by hundreds of grass species and their persistence strategy, within a phylogenetic context. We also tested whether persistence strategies are associated with morphological and physiological traits.
  • Resprouters were associated with less frequent fire than seeders. Whilst modal fire frequencies were similar (fire return interval of 4-6 years), seeders were restricted to regions with more frequent fire than resprouters, suggesting that greater competition with long-lived resprouters restricts seeder recruitment and survival when fire is rare. Resprouting was associated with lower leaf N, higher C/N ratios and the presence of below-ground buds, but was unrelated to photosynthetic pathway.
  • Differences between the life histories of grasses and woody species lead to a contrasting prevalence of seeders and resprouters in relation to fire frequency. Rapid sexual maturation in grasses means that seeder distributions, relative to fire regime, are determined by competitive ability and recruitment, rather than time to reproductive maturity.

Usage Notes

Description of files

plant_traits.csv: species level values for plant traits. Columns:

Column name Description of data
species Species latin binomial
resprouter Resprouting ability after fire (from literature review - see resprouting_ability file to see information sources used in this classification).
photosynthetic.pathway Photosynthetic pathway used
life.history Life history
bud.position Where a species resprouts from. C=crown resprouter (caespitose species without rhizomes or stolons), R=rhizomatous species; S=stoloniferous species
dim.1 Dimension 1 values from a principal components analysis of leaf traits (specific leaf area, leaf N content, leaf C:N from Jardine et al 2020)
dim.2 Dimension 2 values from a principal components analysis of leaf traits (specific leaf area, leaf N content, leaf C:N from Jardine et al 2020)


resprouting_ability.xlsx: Species-level data on the ability to resprout after fire, including the sources where data was collected from. Columns:

Column name Description of data
Species name Latin binomial
Family 'Poaceae' for all
Resprouter Resprouting ability after fire: yes/no
Location Geographic area where study is based
Citation code Shorthand of informations source (these correspond to the full citations given in the 2nd tab)


Poaceae.phylogeny.MCC.concise.tre: Phylogeny 

fire_drought_data.csv: species level values for fire frequency, fire intensity and drought. Columns:

Column name Description of data
species Latin binomial
median_FRI_years species median fire return interval (in years)
prop_burnt proportion of records per species that occur in pixels that burnt at least once in during the MODIS dataset
q95_FRP_MW 95th percentile of fire radiative power (in MW)

Example script for DRYAD.R: An example R code to extract and clean occurrence data, extract fire characteristic data, and carry out the phylogenetic logistic regression 


Natural Environment Research Council, Award: 1371737