What does wildfire mean for flora and fauna? New research project in Marmaris, Turkey

A team of scientists conducted fieldwork in the burned areas of the Marmaris region with the purpose of revealing the post-fire damage and restoration opportunities.

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Photo: Irem Tüfekcioğlu
Photo: Irem Tüfekcioğlu

In the summer of 2021, approximately 130.000 hectares of forest area burned as a result of wildfires lasted 10 days at various points in Turkey’s Mediterranean Region. In Marmaris, wildfire lasted almost one week and burned 12.000 hectares of forest area. During September, with the support of the General Directorate for Protection of Natural Assets, we, a team of scientists from various universities and specialties conducted fieldwork in the burned areas of the Marmaris region with the purpose of revealing the post-fire damage and restoration opportunities.

We conducted our research in several stations and plots during the fieldwork. In each plot, we determined the fire severity by measuring ash depth and determining plant material consumption. We also used the normalized burn ratio index from satellite data (Sentinel Hub). For evaluating the restoration potential of each station, we counted the number of serotinous cones of Pinus brutia (closed and currently opening ones) remaining on trees after the fire and fell on the ground. We also identified resprouting plants just after fire. These field stations and plots will be visited periodically for the next months and years to monitor regeneration after fire. Besides that, we detected stations for the insect traps and the camera traps to monitor insect and mammal species right before wildfire.

We completed the first stage of fieldwork. The next steps will be the data analysis, and the evaluation of the results by comparing the density of resprouters and seronity level in different vegetation types and sites with different fire severity. Finally, we will establish a monitoring system for regeneration of burned area over the next three years in the Marmaris region.

Project team: Çağatay Tavşanoğlu, Gökhan Ergan, Burçin Yenisey Kaynaş, İrem Tüfekcioğlu