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Forests 2018, 9(8), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9080494

Evaluation of Composite Burn Index and Land Surface Temperature for Assessing Soil Burn Severity in Mediterranean Fire-Prone Pine Ecosystems

1
Area of Ecology, Department of Biodiversity and Environmental Management, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain
2
Agrarian Science and Engineering Department, Universidad de León, Av. Astorga s/n, 24400 Ponferrada, Spain
3
Electronic Technology Department, Sustainable Forest Management Research Institute, Universidad de Valladolid, Spanish National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (INIA), C/Francisco Mendizábal s/n, 47014 Valladolid, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 13 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Post-Fire Regeneration)
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Abstract

We analysed the relationship between burn severity indicators, from remote sensing and field observations, and soil properties after a wildfire in a fire-prone Mediterranean ecosystem. Our study area was a large wildfire in a Pinus pinaster forest. Burn severity from remote sensing was identified by studying immediate post-fire Land Surface Temperature (LST). We also evaluated burn severity in the field applying the Composite Burn Index (CBI) in a total of 84 plots (30 m diameter). In each plot we evaluated litter consumption, ash colour and char depth as visual indicators. We collected soil samples and pH, soil organic carbon, dry aggregate size distribution (MWD), aggregate stability and water repellency were analysed. A controlled heating of soil was also carried out in the laboratory, with soil from the control plots, to compare with the changes produced in soils affected by different severity levels in the field. Our results shown that changes in soil properties affected by wildfire were only observed in soil aggregation in the high severity situation. The laboratory-controlled heating showed that temperatures of about 300 °C result in a significant reduction in soil organic carbon and MWD. Furthermore, soil organic carbon showed a significant decrease when LST values increased. Char depth was the best visual indicator to show changes in soil properties (mainly physical properties) in large fires that occur in Mediterranean pine forests. We conclude that CBI and post-fire LST can be considered good indicators of soil burn severity since both indicate the impact of fire on soil properties. View Full-Text
Keywords: controlled heating; land surface temperature (LST); pine forest; soil burn severity; substrate CBI; visual indicators; wildfire controlled heating; land surface temperature (LST); pine forest; soil burn severity; substrate CBI; visual indicators; wildfire
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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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Marcos, E.; Fernández-García, V.; Fernández-Manso, A.; Quintano, C.; Valbuena, L.; Tárrega, R.; Luis-Calabuig, E.; Calvo, L. Evaluation of Composite Burn Index and Land Surface Temperature for Assessing Soil Burn Severity in Mediterranean Fire-Prone Pine Ecosystems. Forests 2018, 9, 494.

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