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Long term consequences of a controlled slash burn and slash mastication to soil moisture and CO2 at a southern Colorado site


Massman, W. J.; Frank, J. M.; Jimenez Esquilin, A. E.; Stromberger, M. E.; Shepperd, W. D. 2006. Long term consequences of a controlled slash burn and slash mastication to soil moisture and CO2 at a southern Colorado site. In: 27th Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. Paper 2.2. Boston, MA: American Meteorological Society. Online: https://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/111082.pdf

Thinning of forest stands is frequently used to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. But thinning requires that the refuse (or slash) be removed from the site, which can be done either by burning it or by mastication and dispersal. Either method has long term consequences to the soil and to soil moisture and soil CO2 levels. For example, after the initial drying of the soil by a fire, soil moisture in burned areas tends to exceed that of unburned areas because the loss of vegetation reduces or eliminates transpiration (Neary and Ffolliott, 2005). This situation may persist until the vegetation is reestablished. In general, burning also tends to reduce soil respiration (Amiro et al., 2003) and, therefore, soil CO2 amounts and fluxes. Nevertheless, some environmental conditions will allow the soil respiration of a burned area to exceed that of an unburned area (Andersson et al., 2004). In fact, exposing soil to a severe fire may actually increase heterotrophic respiration (Bisset and Parkinson, 1980; Richter et al., 2000). In this situation the consequences to soil CO2 and soil fluxes is less clear because nearby unburned areas may still support autotrophic respiration. This increase in heterotrophic respiration in the burned area is thought to result from the stimulation of the soil microbiota by increased soil temperatures (Bisset and Parkinson, 1980; Richter et al., 2000) and/or elevated levels of bioavailable nutrients (Fyles et al., 2001; Choromanska and DeLuca, 2002; Certini, 2005).

Keywords: fire, thinning, slash burn, slash mastication, soil moisture, CO2


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Long term consequences of a controlled slash burn and slash mastication to soil moisture and CO2 at a southern Colorado site
Electronic Publish Date: May 23, 2013
Last Update:
May 23, 2013

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