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Index for Characterizing Post-Fire Soil Environments in Temperate Coniferous Forests
Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Snake River Field Station, Boise, ID 83706, USA
Department of Forestry and Geology, University of the South, Sewanee, TN 37383, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 May 2012; in revised form: 8 June 2012 / Accepted: 19 June 2012 / Published: 6 July 2012
Abstract: Many scientists and managers have an interest in describing the environment following a fire to understand the effects on soil productivity, vegetation growth, and wildlife habitat, but little research has focused on the scientific rationale for classifying the post-fire environment. We developed an empirically-grounded soil post-fire index (PFI) based on available science and ecological thresholds. Using over 50 literature sources, we identified a minimum of five broad categories of post-fire outcomes: (a) unburned, (b) abundant surface organic matter ( > 85% surface organic matter), (c) moderate amount of surface organic matter ( ≥ 40 through 85%), (d) small amounts of surface organic matter ( < 40%), and (e) absence of surface organic matter (no organic matter left). We then subdivided each broad category on the basis of post-fire mineral soil colors providing a more fine-tuned post-fire soil index. We related each PFI category to characteristics such as soil temperature and duration of heating during fire, and physical, chemical, and biological responses. Classifying or describing post-fire soil conditions consistently will improve interpretations of fire effects research and facilitate communication of potential responses or outcomes (e.g., erosion potential) from fires of varying severities.
Keywords: fire effects; fire severity; soil burn severity; post-fire soil productivity; post-fire microbes; post-fire niche
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Jain, T.B.; Pilliod, D.S.; Graham, R.T.; Lentile, L.B.; Sandquist, J.E. Index for Characterizing Post-Fire Soil Environments in Temperate Coniferous Forests. Forests 2012, 3, 445-466.
Jain TB, Pilliod DS, Graham RT, Lentile LB, Sandquist JE. Index for Characterizing Post-Fire Soil Environments in Temperate Coniferous Forests. Forests. 2012; 3(3):445-466.
Jain, Theresa B.; Pilliod, David S.; Graham, Russell T.; Lentile, Leigh B.; Sandquist, Jonathan E. 2012. "Index for Characterizing Post-Fire Soil Environments in Temperate Coniferous Forests." Forests 3, no. 3: 445-466.