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Although California has a long history of wildfire, recent factors such as climate change and population growth have put the state in danger of increasingly intense fire seasons. This extreme fire risk has led to the dropping of millions of gallons of fire retardant on California forests, with the specifics of the environmental impacts of doing so still largely unknown. Using c-ferns (Ceratopteris richardii) as a model, this study tests how the presence of various concentrations of fire retardant affects germination and growth. It was found that while low concentrations of retardant have little effect on germination rates, higher concentrations can either reduce germination rates or prevent it entirely. Additionally, all c-fern spores that germinated in the presence of any level of fire retardant grew into gametophytes that were at least four times smaller than control gametophytes. The reduction of long-term fire retardant use and the reintroduction of Indigenous fire prevention techniques could be the answer to these deleterious environmental impacts.
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Frost, Erynn L., "Fire Retardant: Friend or Foe? - How Fire Retardant Effects Growth and Germination Rates in C-Ferns" (2022). Senior Projects Spring 2022. 4.
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