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How clear-cutting affects fire severity and soil properties in a Mediterranean ecosystem


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How clear-cutting affects fire severity and soil properties in a Mediterranean ecosystem
Francos, Marcos
Pereira, Paulo
Mataix Solera, Jorge
Arcenegui Baldó, Victoria
Alcañiz, Meritxell
Úbeda, Xavier
Departamentos de la UMH::Agroquímica y Medio Ambiente
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Forest management practices in Mediterranean ecosystems are frequently employed to reduce both the risk and severity of wildfires. However, these pre-fire treatments may influence the effects of wildfire events on soil properties. The aim of this study is to examine the short-term effects of a wildfire that broke out in 2015 on the soil properties of three sites: two exposed to management practices in different years e 2005 (site M05B) and 2015 (site M15B) e and one that did not undergo any management (NMB) and to compare their properties with those recorded in a plot (Control) unaffected by the 2015 wildfire. We analyzed aggregate stability (AS), soil organic matter (SOM) content, total nitrogen (TN), carbon/ nitrogen ratio (C/N), inorganic carbon (IC), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), extractable calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), and potassium (K), microbial biomass carbon (Cmic) and basal soil respiration (BSR). In the managed plots, a clear-cutting operation was conducted, whereby part of the vegetation was cut and left covering the soil surface. The AS values recorded at the Control site were significantly higher than those recorded at M05B, whereas the TN and SOM values at NMB were significantly higher than those recorded at M05B. IC was significantly higher at M05B than at the other plots. There were no significant differences in C/N ratio between the analyzed sites. Soil pH at M05B was significantly higher than the value recorded at the Control plot. Extractable Ca was significantly higher at NMB than at both M05B and the Control, while extractable Mg was significantly lower at M05B than at NMB. Extractable K was significantly lower at the Control than at the three fire-affected plots. Cmic was significantly higher at NMB than at the Control. BSR, BSR/C and BSR/Cmic values at the fire-affected sites were significantly lower than those recorded at the Control. No significant differences were identified in Cmic/C. Overall, a comparison of the pre-fire treatments showed that NMB was the practice that had the least negative effects on the soil properties studied, followed by M15B, and that fire severity was highest at M05B due to the accumulation of dead plant fuel
Pre-fire management
Soil properties
Fire severity
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