Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (215 KB bytes)

Title: Prescribed burning effects on soil physical properties and soil water repellency in a steep chaparral watershed, southern California, USA

Author: Hubbert, K.R.; Preisler, H.K.; Wohlgemuth, P.M.; Graham, R.C.; Narog, M.G.;

Date: 2006

Source: Geoderma 130: p. 284-298

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Chaparral watersheds associated with Mediterranean-type climate are distributed over five regions of the world. Because brushland soils are often shallow with low water holding capacities, and are on slopes prone to erosion, disturbances such as fire can adversely affect their physical properties. Fire can also increase the spatial coverage of soil water repellency, reducing infiltration, and, in turn, increasing overland flow and subsequent erosion. We studied the impacts of fire on soil properties by collecting data before and after a prescribed burn conducted during Spring 2001 on the San Dimas Experimental Forest, southern California. The fire removed the litter layer and destroyed the weak surface soil structure; leaving a thin band of ash and char on top of, and mixed in with, an unstable, granular soil of loose consistency. Median litter thickness and clay content were significantly decreased after fire while soil bulk density increased. At 7 d post-fire, soil surface repellency in the watershed was significantly higher than prior to the burn. At 76 d post-fire, surface soil water repellency was returning to near pre-fire values. At the 2 and 4 cm depths, 7 d post-fire soil repellency was also significantly higher than pre-fire, however, conditions at 76 d post-fire were similar to pre-fire values. Variability in soil water repellency between replicates within a given 15 X 15 cm site was as large as the variability seen between sites over the 1.28 ha watershed. The increase in post-fire persistence of water repellency was largest beneath ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius) as compared to a small increase beneath chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum). However, pre-fire persistence was higher under chamise than for ceanothus. Post-fire changes to soil properties may increase the watershed hydrologic response, however the mosaic distribution of water repellency may lead to a less severe increase in hydrologic response than might be expected for a spatially more homogenous increase in repellency.

Keywords: chaparral, prescribed fire, soil properties, water infiltration models, water repellency

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Hubbert, K.R.; Preisler, H.K.; Wohlgemuth, P.M.; Graham, R.C.; Narog, M.G. 2006. Prescribed burning effects on soil physical properties and soil water repellency in a steep chaparral watershed, southern California, USA. Geoderma 130: p. 284-298


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.