Can salvage logging affect seed dispersal by birds into burned forests?

The recovery of vegetation in Mediterranean ecosystems after wildfire is mostly a result of direct regeneration, since the same species existing before the fire regenerate on-site by seeding or resprouting. However, the possibility of plant colonization by dispersal of seeds from unburned areas remains poorly studied. We addressed the role of the frugivorous, bird-dependent seed dispersal (seed rain) of fleshy-fruited plants in a burned and managed forest in the second winter after a fire, before on-site fruit production had begun. We also assessed the effect on seed rain of different microhabitats resulting from salvage logging (erosion barriers, standing snags, open areas), as well as the microhabitats of unlogged patches and an unburned control forest, taking account of the importance of perches as seed rain sites. We found considerable seed rain by birds in the burned area. Seeds, mostly from Olive trees Olea europaea and Evergreen pistaches Pistacia lentiscus, belonged to plants fruiting only in surrounding unburned areas. Seed rain was heterogeneous, and depended on microhabitat, with the highest seed density in the unburned control forest but closely followed by the wood piles of erosion barriers. In contrast, very low densities were found under perches of standing snags. Furthermore, frugivorous bird richness seemed to be higher in the erosion barriers than elsewhere. Our results highlight the importance of this specific post-fire management in bird-dependent seed rain and also may suggest a consequent heterogeneous distribution of fleshy-fruited plants in burned and managed areas. However, there needs to be more study of the establishment success of dispersed seeds before an accurate assessment can be made of the role of bird-mediated seed dispersal in post-fire regeneration ​
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