Fire temperature and residence time during dry season burning in a Sudanian savanna-woodland of West Africa with implication for seed germination

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Prescribed fire is used in the Sudanian savanna-woodland of West Africa as a forest management tool. An experiment was carried out to assess the effects of season of burning, and different vertical probe positions on maximum fire temperature and temperature residence time above 60°C which is considered lethal for plant tissues. Seasons of burning considered were: an early season fire set at the beginning of the dry season (beginning of December), mid-season fire set at the peak of the dry season (mid-January), and a late season fire at the end of the dry season (end of March). The effects of these fires on the germination of buried seeds of three socio-economically valuable tree species were also examined. Results indicated significant differences in maximum fire temperature and residence time with respect to season of burning and vertical probe position (p < 0.001). The highest and longest lasting temperatures were observed at 20 cm above ground during early fire and at the soil surface during mid-season and late fires. This, in turn, affected germination responses of seeds buried at different soil depths. Implications of these findings in the current management practices are discussed.

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