How conifers adapted to fires
Plants living in fire-prone regions often possess distinctive traits that allow them to thrive following wildfires; however, ecologists are not sure if such trait acquisition is driven by fire itself or by a changing climate. The EU-funded ADAPT project will study the evolution of the earliest proposed fire-adapted trait, branch shedding in conifers, which emerged in the Permian (280 Mya). The research fellow will examine whether a shift in fire-regime post-dates the appearance of branch shedding or if it appeared prior to the evolution of this trait. The results will help scientists understand the continued functioning of fire-adaptive traits in the face of changing environmental conditions and assess the resilience of Earth's ecosystems to climate-driven changes in wildfires.