Archive for December, 2023

The geological history of fire

December 19th, 2023 No comments

Fire is unique to Earth; it is a characteristic of our planet. As far as we know, no other planet has fire. Here is a video explaining the geological history of fire, including its relation to the evolution of pines and grasses. It concludes that “without fire, there would probably be no grasslands and the forest of the world would likely have a lot less diversity“. By PBS Eons.


  • Pausas J.G. & Keeley J.E. 2009. A burning story: The role of fire in the history of life. BioScience 59: 593-601 [doi | OUP | pdf]
  • He T, Pausas JG, Belcher CM, Schwilk DW, Lamont BB. 2012. Fire-adapted traits of Pinus arose in the fiery Cretaceous. New Phytol. 194: 751-759. [doi | wiley | pdf | suppl.]

POSTDIV: Postfire biodiversity database

December 10th, 2023 No comments

In the summer of 2012, two wildfires affected Mediterranean ecosystems in the eastern Iberian Peninsula, the Andilla fire and the Cortes fire [1]. The size of these fires (> 20,000 ha each) was at the extreme of the historical variability (megafires sensus [2]). In 2013, we set up 12 plots per fire, covering burned vegetation at different distances from the fire perimeter and unburned vegetation. In each plot, we followed the postfire recovery of arthropods, reptiles (including their ectoparasites), and plants for 2 to 5 years. Here we present the resulting database (POSTDIV) of taxon occurrence and abundance in the burned and unburned areas [3]. Currently, POSTDIV totals 19,906 records for 457 arthropod taxa (113,681 individuals), 12 reptile taxa (503 individuals), 4 reptile parasites (234 individuals), and 518 plant taxa (cover-abundance). We provide examples in the R language to query the database.

Wildfires 2012
The two wildfires occurred simultaneously in Valencia during the 2012 summer (photo: 30 Junio 2012).
POSTDIV database structure. The database is composed of six data tables (blue boxes). For more details, see [3].


[1] Pausas J.G. 2012. Life 15 days after the large fires in Valencia.

[2] Pausas J.G. & Keeley J.E. 2021. Wildfires and global change. Front. Ecol. Environ. 19: 387-395. [doi | wiley | pdf]

[3] Pausas et al. 2023. Postfire biodiversity database for eastern Iberia. Sci Data 10:872 [doi | pdf | pdf | data: figshare