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Marine fire ecology

April 28th, 2024 Leave a comment Go to comments

We have recently published a paper emphasizing the importance of fire ecology in marine ecosystems [1]. Fires occur in terrestrial ecosystems, but marine ecosystems are also affected and thus play a role in the ecology of fire. Fire by-products travel to the oceans by land (e.g., ashes and sediments through runoff and rivers) and by air (smoke and aerosol deposition). Wildfires enhance the transport of carbon and nutrients from land to sea, thereby altering global carbon and nutrient cycling. For instance, part of the black carbon (charcoal) from wildfires is transported to oceans and sinks into deep waters. The increase in nutrients in the ocean often enhances phytoplankton productivity, especially in iron (Fe)-limited waters. These effects impact marine biota; some species may benefit from increased nutrients while others may suffer negative consequences. Our current understanding of how fires impact marine ecosystems is primarily anecdotal; marine fire ecology is a new research area that requires further study.

Schematic representation of the interaction between land (where fires occur), freshwater and the atmosphere (where fire byproducts are transported), and the ocean. From [1]


[1] Riera R & Pausas JG 2024. Fire ecology in marine systems. Trends Ecol. Evol. 39: 221-224. [doi | sciencedirect | pdf]

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