Fire severity effects on soil organic matter from a ponderosa pine forest: A laboratory study

TitleFire severity effects on soil organic matter from a ponderosa pine forest: A laboratory study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHatten JA, Zabowski D
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Pagination613 - 623
Date Published2010///
ISBN Number1049-8001
Keywordsblack carbon, Carbon, fire intensity, Fulvic acid, Humic acid, Humin, Nitrogen

This study investigated the changes in soil organic matter composition by controlling fire severity of laboratory burns on reconstructed surface soil profiles (O, A1 (0-1 cm), and A2 (1-2 cm)). Laboratory burning simulated prescribed burns that would be typical in the understorey of a ponderosa pine forest at low, moderate, and high-moderate severity levels. Soils were analysed for C, N and soil organic matter composition. Soil organic matter was fractionated into humin, humic acid, fulvic acid, soluble non-humic materials and other hydrophobic compounds. In the O horizon, low-, moderate-, and high-severity treatments consumed an increasing proportion of C and N. Carbon content of the mineral soil was unaffected by burning; however, N content of the A2 horizon decreased after the moderate-and high-severity treatments, likely as a result of N volatilisation. The proportion of non-soluble material in the O horizon increased with fire severity, whereas the proportion of humin C as total C of the A horizon decreased with fire severity. The decrease in humin was followed by an increase in the other hydrophobic compounds. The higher fire intensity experienced by the burning O horizon created recalcitrant materials while an increase in labile soil organic matter was observed in mineral soil. An increase in labile soil organic matter may cause elevated C and N mineralisation rates often seen after fire.

Full Text