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Title: Effects of high- and low-intensity fires on soil properties and plant growth in a Bolivian dry forest

Author: Kennard, Deborah K.; Gholz, H.L.;

Date: 2001

Source: Plant and Soil 234: 119-129, 2001

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: We compared soil nutrient availabiiity and soil physical properties among four treatments (high-intensity fire, low- intensity fire, plant removal, and harvesting gap) and a control (intact forest understory) over a period of 18 months in a tropical dry forest in Bolivia. The effect of treatments on plant growth was tested using a shade intolerant tree species (Anaderzanthera colubrina Vell. Cone.) as a bioassay. Surface soils in high-intensity fire treatments had significantly greater pH values, concentrations of extractable calcium (Ca), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and phosphorus (P), and amounts of resin-available P and nitrogen (N) than other treatments; however, a loss of soil organic matter during high-intensity fires likely resulted in increased bulk density and strength, and decreased water infiltration rates. Low intensity fires also significantly increased soil pH, concentrations of extractable Ca, K, Mg, and P, and amounts of resin-available P and N, although to a lesser degree than high-intensity fires. Low-intensity fires did not lower soil organic matter contents or alter soil physical properties. Plant removal and harvesting gap treatments had little effect on soil chemical and physical properties. Despite the potentially negative effects of degraded soil structure on plant growth, growth of A. colubrina seedlings were greater following high-intensity fires. Evidently, the increase in nutrient availability caused by high-intensity fires was not offset by degraded soil structure in its effects on seedling growth. Long-term effects of high intensity fires require further research.

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Kennard, Deborah K.; Gholz, H.L. 2001. Effects of high- and low-intensity fires on soil properties and plant growth in a Bolivian dry forest. Plant and Soil 234: 119-129, 2001

 


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