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The Long-Term Effects of Wildfire and Post-Fire Vegetation on Sierra Nevada Forest Soils
Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 April 2012; in revised form: 12 June 2012 / Accepted: 13 June 2012 / Published: 20 June 2012
Abstract: This paper compares carbon (C) and nutrient contents in soils (Alfisols derived from andesite), forest floor and vegetation in a former fire (1960) and an adjacent forest in the Sagehen Watershed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Soils from the former fire (now occupied predominantly by Ceanothus velutinus, a nitrogen-fixing shrub) had significantly lower contents of extractable SO42− and P (both Bray and bicarbonate) but significantly greater contents of exchangeable Ca2+ than the adjacent forested site (dominated by Pinus jeffreyii). 15N data suggested that N fixation had occurred in the former fire site, but N contents did not differ between the two sites. O horizon C and nutrient contents did not differ between the two sites, but vegetation C and nutrient contents were significantly greater in the forested than former fire site. These results contrast with those from a nearby, previous study at Little Valley Nevada, also dominated by P. jeffreyii growing on a different soil type (Entisols derived from granite). In the Little Valley study, soil C, N, Ca2+, Mg2+, and K+ contents within the former fire (1981, now also occupied predominantly by Ceanothus velutinus) were greater than in the adjacent forest (Pinus jeffreyii) but soil extractable P contents either did not differ or were greater in the former fire. We conclude that soil parent material is an indirect but strong mediator of the effects of post-fire vegetation on soils in this region, especially with respect to soil P changes, which vary substantially between andesite- and granite-derived soils.
Keywords: carbon; long-term; N-fixation; nutrients; soils; vegetation; wildfire
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Johnson, D.W.; Walker, R.F.; McNulty, M.; Rau, B.M.; Miller, W.W. The Long-Term Effects of Wildfire and Post-Fire Vegetation on Sierra Nevada Forest Soils. Forests 2012, 3, 398-416.
Johnson DW, Walker RF, McNulty M, Rau BM, Miller WW. The Long-Term Effects of Wildfire and Post-Fire Vegetation on Sierra Nevada Forest Soils. Forests. 2012; 3(2):398-416.
Johnson, Dale W.; Walker, Roger F.; McNulty, Michelle; Rau, Benjamin M.; Miller, Watkins W. 2012. "The Long-Term Effects of Wildfire and Post-Fire Vegetation on Sierra Nevada Forest Soils." Forests 3, no. 2: 398-416.