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Forests 2015, 6(3), 613-635; doi:10.3390/f6030613

The Influence of Parent Material on Vegetation Response 15 years after the Dude Fire, Arizona

1
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2500 South Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
2
USDA Forest Service Retired, 1500 South Little Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86005, USA
3
School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 15018, 200 East Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Reynaldo Santana and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 3 November 2014 / Revised: 9 February 2015 / Accepted: 19 February 2015 / Published: 4 March 2015
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Abstract

This study examined the effects of two types of parent material, sandstone and limestone, on the response of vegetation growth after the 1990 Dude Fire in central Arizona. The operating hypothesis of the study was that, given the right conditions, severe wildfire can trigger vegetation type conversion. Overall, three patterns emerged: (1) oak density increased by 413% from unburned sites to burned sites, with the highest densities occurring on sandstone soils; (2) weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula Nees), a very aggressive non-native grass species seeded after the fire, now makes up 81% of the total herbaceous cover in the burned area; and (3) bare ground cover is 150% higher and litter cover is 50% lower in the burned area. Soil analysis was not definitive enough to differentiate impacts between parent materials however it was useful in quantifying the long-term impact of the fire on soils. The results of this study support the idea that catastrophic fire events can trigger vegetation type conversion and that perennial, non-native species used in rehabilitation efforts can persist within the ecosystem for long periods of time. Hence, the recovery period needed for the Dude Fire site to revert back to a pine-oak dominated forest could be on the scale of many decades to centuries. View Full-Text
Keywords: post-fire impacts; soil; trees; ecosystems: wildfire; biodiversity post-fire impacts; soil; trees; ecosystems: wildfire; biodiversity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Leonard, J.M.; Medina, A.L.; Neary, D.G.; Tecle, A. The Influence of Parent Material on Vegetation Response 15 years after the Dude Fire, Arizona. Forests 2015, 6, 613-635.

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