Comparatively irregular events such as forest fires are necessary for some plants to grow (see here).

But do any plant or animal species have similar dependence on thunder and/or lightning?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Lightning is more or less the only non-human cause of forest fires $\endgroup$
    – C_Z_
    Jun 30, 2016 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @C_Z_ Ah, yes. That was not an intended connection, even though it is obvious now that you point it out. I was more thinking of direct effects of the immense light and sound… $\endgroup$
    – trmdttr
    Jun 30, 2016 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ do you mean for reproductive purposes? Or just in general? $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2016 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @C_Z_ +1 for trees $\endgroup$
    – Luigi
    Jul 1, 2016 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ @C_Z_ What about dry fires in summer/dry season? They happen very frequently. Are they always started by people (genuinely curious)? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jul 1, 2016 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


Lightning results in nitrogen fixation (Draphco et al., 1967; Hill et al., 1980). It is one of the main abiotic nitrogen fixation mechanisms. As you would know very well, nitrogen fixation is important for all organisms.

  • $\begingroup$ This is very good, but if there are other sources of nitrogen fixation, organisms are not really dependent on this source of it? $\endgroup$
    – trmdttr
    Jul 3, 2016 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ @trmdttr there are some organisms (mostly micro-organisms) that can fix nitrogen on their own. $\endgroup$
    Jul 3, 2016 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ So basically, all other organisms that cannot fix nitrogen themselves are dependent on lightning? Or do they use the fixed nitrogen from those microorganisms? $\endgroup$
    – trmdttr
    Jul 4, 2016 at 18:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @trmdttr they can depend on the other organisms that fix nitrogen as well as use the nitrogen fixed by the lightning. I believe initial lifeforms consumed the abiotically fixed nitrogen; subsequently some evolved to fix nitrogen themselves. $\endgroup$
    Jul 4, 2016 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ So, this answer doesn't really catch a necessary reliance on thunder or lightning for any specific organism? More a need for fixated nitrogen of which the majority comes from that source (but also from others)? $\endgroup$
    – trmdttr
    Jul 4, 2016 at 19:18

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