Climatic Conditions Affect Shoot Flammability by Influencing Flammability-Related Functional Traits in Non-Fire-Prone Habitats
Plant flammability is an important driver of wildfires, and flammability itself is determined by several plant functional traits. While many plant traits are influenced by climatic conditions, the interaction between climatic conditions and plant flammability has rarely been investigated. Here, we explored the relationships among climatic conditions, shoot-level flammability components, and flammability-related functional traits for 186 plant species from fire-prone and non-fire-prone habitats. For species originating from non-fire-prone habitats, those from warmer areas tended to have lower shoot moisture content and larger leaves, and had higher shoot flammability with higher ignitibility, combustibility, and sustainability. Plants in wetter areas tended to have lower shoot flammability with lower combustibility and sustainability due to higher shoot moisture contents. In fire-prone habitats, shoot flammability was not significantly related to any climatic factor. Our study suggests that for species originating in non-fire-prone habitats, climatic conditions have influenced plant flammability by shifting flammability-related functional traits, including leaf size and shoot moisture content. Climate does not predict shoot flammability in species from fire-prone habitats; here, fire regimes may have an important role in shaping plant flammability. Understanding these nuances in the determinants of plant flammability is important in an increasingly fire-prone world.