The impact of plant evolution on fire behaviour

European Research Council (ERC) Starter Grant – 1,519,640 euro – PI C Belcher

Without fire life on our planet would not be as we know it today. Throughout Earth’s long history fire has been both a driver and a consequence of evolutionary innovations throughout the history of plant life.

conifer forest fire
Conifer forest fire

Fuel type is of key importance to fire, therefore evolutionary innovations in plants, the shifting of biomes and contraction and expansion of plant ranges have the ability to change the flammability of regions of our planet based on the types of plants that dominate in different locations.

ECOFLAM focuses on understanding the impact that major evolutionary innovations in plant life over the past 420 millions years have had on fire behaviour and how variations in this behaviour has determined the evolutionary success of the plant groups that dominate our world today.

ECOFLAM combines for the first time state-of-the-art flammability experiments and careful palaeontology with innovative modelling approaches to reconstruct wildfires in ancient ecosystems in order to gain a mechanistic understanding of how evolutionary innovations in plants link to changes in fire.


Key contact: c.belcher[at]