Forests 2012, 3(3), 445-466; doi:10.3390/f3030445

Index for Characterizing Post-Fire Soil Environments in Temperate Coniferous Forests

1 Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Moscow, ID 83843, USA 2 U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Snake River Field Station, Boise, ID 83706, USA 3 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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Long-Term Effects of Fire on Forest Soils)
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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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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.

AMA Style

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.

Chicago/Turabian Style

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.

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